Nine California lawmakers have raised a significant legal question regarding Donald Trump’s eligibility to participate in the upcoming Republican primary in the state, citing the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. This development has the potential to complicate Trump’s bid for a second term in the White House.
Newsweek 90, on Wednesday, September 20, reports that the 14th Amendment explicitly prohibits individuals who have sworn an oath “to support the Constitution” and then engaged in “insurrection or rebellion” from holding any civil or military office.
Legal scholars argue that Trump’s actions surrounding the 2020 presidential election, particularly the storming of the U.S. Capitol by his supporters on January 6, 2021, constitute an “insurrection or rebellion.”
This argument hinges on the premise that Trump, during his inauguration, pledged to “preserve, protect, and defend” the Constitution. As Trump seeks a return to the White House, he faces a series of legal challenges, including four ongoing criminal cases.
These charges encompass allegations related to orchestrating hush money payments to an adult film star, mishandling classified documents, and attempting to overturn the 2020 presidential election, both nationally and in Georgia.
Trump has consistently pleaded not guilty to all counts in these four cases, asserting that the charges against him are politically motivated.
Recently, eight Democratic members of the California State Assembly, along with one from the state’s Senate, addressed a letter to Attorney General Rob Bonta, urging him to seek a court opinion on whether Donald J. Trump should be removed from the ballot of the presidential primary election scheduled for March 5, 2024, in California.
The letter, authored by State Assemblymember Evan Low, emphasized that Bonta had a unique opportunity to proactively seek the court’s opinion on Trump’s eligibility based on the established facts.
A spokesperson for Bonta confirmed the receipt of the letter and stated that they would review the request internally. However, they also expressed concerns about Trump’s behavior, labeling it “unacceptable and unbecoming of any leader, let alone a president.”
A recent poll conducted by the UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies revealed that Trump is currently polling at 53 percent in California, making him the frontrunner for the state’s 169 delegates in the primary.
A rule change stipulates that any Republican candidate securing over 50 percent of the vote automatically receives all of the state’s delegates. With California providing the most delegates of any state, Trump’s exclusion from the ballot could significantly impact his campaign.
Nonetheless, if a California court decides to remove Trump from the primary ballot, it is expected that his campaign team will challenge this decision legally. Such a legal dispute could ultimately reach the Supreme Court, which currently leans conservative.
While legal scholars have presented compelling arguments that Trump may be disqualified from serving a second term under the 14th Amendment, there remains a significant divide on this issue along political lines.
The application of these legal arguments depends on the common acceptance of certain facts, which is challenging in today’s polarized political landscape.
It’s worth noting that similar efforts to remove Trump from primary ballots based on the 14th Amendment have been initiated in several other states, including Colorado, New Hampshire, Michigan, and Arizona.