The never-ending witch hunt against former President Trump shows no signs of abating as two civil rights organizations have now launched a campaign aimed at pressuring state governments to disqualify him from appearing on ballots in the 2024 elections. Mi Familia Vota and Free Speech for People, the groups leading this latest effort, assert that secretaries of state have the authority, bestowed upon them by the 14th Amendment, to prevent Trump from running for office due to his alleged involvement in the Capitol insurrection on January 6, 2021.
In an attempt to exert their influence, the organizations plan to stage a series of rallies and banner drops outside the offices of secretaries of state in California, Oregon, Colorado, Georgia, and Nevada. They have already written a letter to Nevada Secretary of State Cisco Aguilar, urging him to invoke the Insurrectionist Disqualification Clause and block Trump’s candidacy.
Dubbing their campaign “Trump is Disqualified,” Mi Familia Vota and Free Speech for People are meticulously timing their activities to coincide with the 155th anniversary of the 14th Amendment. The groups argue that secretaries of state play a pivotal role in certifying the eligibility of candidates and overseeing the vote-counting process within their respective states.
While Trump has faced multiple indictments and ongoing investigations, the organizations claim that these factors do not constitute disqualifying grounds under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment. However, they contend that Trump’s alleged involvement in the Capitol insurrection aligns with the definitions outlined in the constitutional clause.
This particular clause bars individuals who have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the United States from holding public offices. It encompasses those who have previously taken an oath as members of Congress, officers of the United States, members of any State legislature, or executive/judicial officers of any State with a duty to support the Constitution. Although it remains unclear whether the clause explicitly prohibits individuals from assuming the presidency, and whether the events of January 6 can be deemed as an “insurrection or rebellion” against the United States, at least one official, Couy Griffin from New Mexico, lost his position as a county commissioner due to his involvement in the attack.
The Congressional Research Service (CRS) acknowledges that the Constitution does not explicitly require a criminal conviction and that historically, it was not necessary for disqualification. Banking on their interpretation of the clause, the groups spearheading the campaign believe they can persuade some secretaries of state to adopt their stance, thus undermining Trump’s chances of running in the elections.
According to Alexandra Flores-Quilty, the campaign director for Free Speech For People, “Trump is responsible for the January 6th insurrection, plain and simple.” She further argues that failing to hold him accountable not only violates the Constitution but also establishes a dangerous precedent that permits violent attacks on democracy, a risk we purportedly cannot afford to take.
While the targeted states are predominantly under Democratic control, Georgia holds special significance due to the events leading up to January 6. Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R) faced pressure from Trump in 2020 to overturn his state’s presidential vote count, which favored President Biden. Raffensperger was recently interviewed by federal investigators as part of special counsel Jack Smith’s ongoing investigations into Trump.
Undoubtedly, if any secretary of state were to disqualify Trump, it would set an unprecedented precedent and likely face legal challenges. Nevertheless, the civil rights groups remain optimistic, asserting that they have a real chance at achieving their objectives. “We have had a number of meetings with secretaries of state, and we have had this discussion. So it’s a real possibility,” remarked Héctor Sánchez, executive director of Mi Familia Vota.