Trump faces 14th Amendment challenge in 2nd state: Minnesota

September 12, 2023

A group of voters in Minnesota filed a lawsuit Tuesday to block former President Trump from the 2024 Presidential ballot. 

The Minnesota lawsuit follows one filed in the state of Colorado. In each case, the plaintiffs hope to invoke a provision in the 14th Amendment that says no American official who has taken an oath to uphold the U.S. Constitution is disqualified from holding office if they engaged in “inurrection or rebellion” or “given aid or comfort” to anyone else who has. 

The specific wording of Section 3 of the 14th amendment is this: “No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice-President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.”

The Amendment’s provision has rarely been called upon since the late 1800s when it was used against former Confederates. 

According to the Minnesota lawsuit, “Donald J. Trump, through his words and actions, after swearing an oath as an officer of the United States to support the Constitution, then engaged in insurrection as defined by Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment. He is disqualified from holding the presidency or any other office under the United States unless and until Congress provides him relief.”

The suit was filed on behalf of eight Minnesota voters—including a former Republican appointed state Supreme Court justice and an Iraq War veteran who ran his county’s Republican Party chapter. 

Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon (D) said in a statement last week that the citizens of his state have the right under state law to challenge in court a candidate’s eligibility for office, and pledged to “honor the outcome of that process.”

The 2024 Minnesota Republican primary is on March 5, which is Super Tuesday. It’s one day after Trump’s federal trial is set to begin on charges related to his attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 Presidential election.

The issue of the 14th amendment surrounding Trump’s elegibility for office entered the national debate in earnest last month, after two renowned legal scholars on opposite sides of the political spectrum raised the Constitutional argument: liberal Harvard Law professor emeritus Laurence Tribe and conservative retired federal judge Michael Luttig.

Luttig, a Colorado resident, has noted that the 14th Amendment’s section 3 “functions as a sort of constitutional immune system” meant to “keep those who have fundamentally betrayed the constitutional order from keeping or resuming power.”

The lawsuits in Minnesota and Colorado are both viewed as long-shots. Trump has denied wrongdoing, pleaded not guilty to both the federal and the Georgia state prosecutions brought against him related to the 2020 Election, and has vowed to fight to remain on the Presidential ballot in ’24.

That said, a lawsuit in New Mexico successfully invoked the 14th Amendment to remove a county official after he was convicted of breaching U.S. Capitol grounds during the January 6, 2021 insurrection, though lawsuits  brought against House Republicans in North Carolina, Arizona and Georgia have been unsuccessful.

Any lawsuits brought against Trump’s bid for reelection on U.S. Constitutional grounds would almost certainly end up before the U.S. Supreme Court. 

PHOTO: Trump arrives in DC for Arraignment, August 3

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