As Donald Trump looks more and more likely to be the 2024 Republican presidential nominee, it continues to look more and more plausible that there could be a serious effort to keep him off the ballot altogether.
After a presidency that ended in a bloody battle on Capitol Hill, Mr. Trump remains the de facto leader of the Republican Party, at least among his constituents. Recent polls show the former president is supported by six in 10 GOP primary voters nationally, while he also continues to command commanding leads in early primary and caucus states such as Iowa, New Hampshire and the South Caroline.
But winning a primary is one thing. winning a general election is something else. And as Mr. Trump consolidates his support within the Republican Party, some politicians and constitutional law experts are increasingly bullish on the possibility that he may simply deny the GOP nominee an appearance on the ballot next November. The idea centers around the use of a clause in the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, originally intended to prevent supporters of the failed Southern cause of secession from being elected to office, which bars those who participate in insurrections or who “gave aid or comfort to the enemies” of the United States government since taking office.
It's a bold strategy that would push American politics as far into uncharted territory as Congress found itself as lawmakers fled for their lives on Jan. 6. But the process itself is fairly simple: legal challenges would be filed against any state election official who ruled that Mr. Trump would be on the 2024 ballot as a presidential candidate. These legal challenges will play out in the courts, with the possibility of reaching the US Supreme Court for a final decision.
A handful of left-leaning legal groups, backed by donations from liberal groups and other donors opposed to Trump, have pledged to file such challenges. What is still unclear is how successful they will be and whether Mr. Trump will actually be shut off the ballot in any state. So far, there is no indication that the effort has the support of state election officials who have the power to make initial decisions on the issue before legal challenges are put in place.
Getting off the ballot in even one state, with the exception of Democratic strongholds where he has no chance of winning, could be devastating to Donald Trump's re-election bid. In a close election, every Electoral College vote matters, and an unexpected loss of a single state can be very difficult to replace.
Mr. Trump's inner circle continues to dismiss the possibility of such challenges, calling them far-fetched and not based on serious legal theory.
“The people pursuing this absurd conspiracy theory and political attack on President Trump are stretching the law beyond recognition, like the political prosecutors in New York, Georgia and DC,” a Trump campaign spokesman said recently. . Worthy.
But the truth may be a little more serious. Much of the pushback from the Trump camp so far can be boiled down to the contention that none of the Jan. 6 rioters convicted of crimes related to the congressional attack were directly charged with participating in riot or rebellion. Some, like Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio, have been convicted of conspiracy to riot, however — and that's an avenue that could theoretically be used to counter the Trump campaign's legal defense.
Jonathan Turley, a conservative legal theorist at George Washington University, agrees. He has argued that the attack on Congress was “a protest that became a riot”, rejecting more serious charges brought against militia leaders and arguing that Mr Trump's speech on the White House lawn minutes before the violence began did not meet the conditions. as an incentive.
In a recent interview with Fox News, he described the idea as “not just dubious but dangerous.”
Two other respected constitutional law experts, Professor Lawrence Tribe and former federal judge J Michael Luttig, reject this argument. The duo recently embarked on a media tour to support the plan and defend its legal basis. In interviews, they have argued that the evidence that Trump comforted enemies of the US government is overwhelming and will be seriously tried in court.
“This is one of the most fundamental questions that could ever be resolved under our constitution,” Mr. Luttig said during a recent interview on MSNBC, adding:[I]will be decided by the United States Supreme Court sooner rather than later, and probably before the first primaries.”
One thing remains clear as the 2024 election approaches: The presumptive Republican nominee will enter the general election with a staggering and historically unprecedented amount of court-related baggage on his shoulders. With four criminal trials, several civil lawsuits and now a campaign to prevent his eligibility underway, Donald Trump has set himself up for the most contentious and expensive campaign season in US history.