The New York State Board of Elections (NYSBOE) has recently made a pivotal decision to allow former President Donald Trump to appear on New York’s Republican presidential primary ballot. This approval was granted by two Republican members of the NYSBOE amidst a broader national debate, as two other states, Maine and Colorado, are actively seeking to exclude Trump from their ballots.
These efforts are grounded in the 14th Amendment, with claims pointing towards Trump’s alleged involvement in the events of January 6, 2021, at the Capitol. In New York, however, the situation has taken a distinct turn. Despite the board’s decision to include Trump, significant opposition has emerged from within the state’s Democratic ranks. State Senator Brad Hoylman-Sigal, alongside fellow Democrats, has raised objections based on the same “insurrectionist” disqualification clause of the 14th Amendment. They argue that Trump’s purported role in inciting the Capitol riot should render him ineligible for ballot inclusion.
Hoylman-Sigal has not only voiced his dissent but has also signaled a readiness to pursue legal avenues. He has openly stated his intent to appeal to the New York Supreme Court should the NYSBOE proceed with granting Trump ballot access. This legal challenge could potentially coincide with the Supreme Court’s scheduled oral arguments on February 8, concerning the efforts by Maine and Colorado to disqualify Trump based on the insurrection claims.
Trump, for his part, has staunchly refuted any accusations of instigating an insurrection, maintaining that his call to supporters on January 6 was for peaceful protest. He views the legal battles rooted in the 14th Amendment as politically motivated tactics aimed at thwarting his political resurgence.
The legal discourse surrounding these challenges is complex, and the Supreme Court’s upcoming decisions could bypass the core allegations of insurrection entirely. The court might, for instance, rule on the technicality that the U.S. president does not qualify as an “officer of the United States” as per Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, thereby rendering the disqualification clause inapplicable to Trump. Alternatively, the court could nullify the decisions by Maine and Colorado, postponing a definitive ruling on the matter.
Amidst this legal uncertainty, Trump conveyed his optimism in a Fox News interview, asserting his belief in the Supreme Court’s commitment to preserving the electoral rights of the American people. The forthcoming hearing on February 8 is poised to be a critical juncture, offering both Trump’s legal team and his adversaries a platform to articulate their arguments before the court. As these proceedings unfold, they promise to shed light on the intricate interplay between constitutional law, electoral politics, and the contentious legacy of January 6, setting a precedent with potentially far-reaching implications for American democracy.