MINNEAPOLIS — A group of voters on Tuesday filed a petition asking the Minnesota Supreme Court to block former President Donald Trump from the 2024 ballot, arguing he is disqualified from being president again for violating the 14th amendment.
At issue is section three, a clause dating back to the post-Civil War era. It says that a person who's held elected office in the United States and took an oath to support the U.S. Constitution is disqualified from running again if they "have engaged in insurrection or rebellion."
The lawsuit, led by Free Speech For the People, alleges Trump meets this criteria and it's asking the state's highest court to keep him off the ballots in the presidential primary and November general election. Among the Minnesotans who filed the petition are former DFL Secretary of State Joan Growe, former state Supreme Court Justice Paul Anderson and Dave Thul, former co-chair of the Steele County GOP.
"Donald J. Trump, through his words and actions, after swearing an oath as an officer of the United States to support the Constitution, engaged in insurrection or rebellion, or gave aid and comfort to its enemies, as defined by Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment," the petition states. "He is disqualified from holding the presidency or any other office under the United States unless and until Congress provides him relief."
The Trump campaign could not be reached for comment Tuesday. In a letter endorsed by his supporters in New Hampshire, the campaign called an effort there an "absurd conspiracy" to deny Trump, the current front-runner for the Republican nomination, a spot on the ballot.
Thul, a 22-year veteran of the Minnesota National Guard, said he was "sickened" watching the attack on the capitol two years ago play out on TV. He argues the decision to file the petition is not partisan act but a pursuit for justice.
"This is about accountability and about justice and if you support the Constitution, I think there's no way to get around address this issue. And ultimately what we're asking for is for the courts to decide," he told WCCO.
The case that Trump may be ineligible for running for office again first became part of the national political conversation late last month, after two members of The Federalist Society, an influential conservative group of lawyers, floated the legal theory. Michael Stokes Paulsen, a professor of law at the University of St. Thomas School of Law co-authored that article, published in the University of Pennsylvania Law Review.
DFL Secretary of State Steve Simon, who is a respondent in this lawsuit because of his capacity as the administrator of elections, said in an interview that his office takes no position on the matter because the office is "not the eligibility police." But he hopes the Minnesota Supreme Court — and potentially later, the U.S. Supreme Court — will resolve the constitutional question quickly.
The deadline for candidate submissions to be on the presidential primary ballot in Minnesota is Jan. 2, and absentee voting begins just over two weeks later on Jan. 19. That could complicate matters if petitioners are successful and Trump is prohibited from being on the ballot.
"So if the court were to decide this sometime after Jan. 2, that makes it really tricky," Simon said.
He expects the court to order new ballots or disregard Trump's name on already printed ballots if that's the case.
"Voters deserve answers and they deserve answers sooner rather than later," he added.
Minnesota GOP Party Chairman David Hann gave this statement Tuesday to WCCO: "The Republican Party of Minnesota believes that voters in Minnesota should ultimately decide through voting which candidates are qualified to represent them in public office. The Minnesota Supreme Court should reject this fringe legal theory which is purposefully designed to prevent voters from having a voice in our elections."
A similar lawsuit to an analysis provided to members of Congress. Other attempts by Free Speech For The People to bar elected officials tied to January 6th from holding office again have failed to lead to disqualification.in Colorado. The "Disqualification Clause" has been at the center of other civil actions in the past, according
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