John Locher Associated Press For more than a year, different groups of citizens have turned to the courts to prevent Donald Trump from putting his name on a ballot again.
Should Donald Trump's name be removed from the ballots for the next presidential election in the United States since he is allegedly guilty of the crime of insurrection? How ? By sending its troops to the Capitol on January 6, 2021. This is the question that the Colorado justice system and the Minnesota Supreme Court are preparing to answer in two separate lawsuits which enter a new phase this week. Two trials with an uncertain outcome, but with a high potential to reveal a new threat to the populist who aspires to return to the White House in 2024: that of ineligibility. Explanations.
How could Trump lose the right to run in the next presidential election?
Last September, six Republican and independent voters in Colorado filed a lawsuit calling for the ex-president to be excluded from the state's Republican primary scheduled for March 2024. This trial opened Monday before Judge Sarah B. Wallace, of the Denver court, and who must parade experts and witnesses all week. In Minnesota, another group of citizens launched a similar lawsuit last September, which will land in the state Supreme Court on Thursday.
Both lawsuits invoke Section 3 of the 14th Amendment of the country's Constitution, which makes ineligible a person who has “taken an oath…to defend the Constitution” and then “takes part in an insurrection or rebellion” against representatives of the State.
This provision appeared in 1866, in the wake of the American Civil War, and, according to the promoters of these lawsuits, it would now apply to Donald Trump, who sought to prevent American elected officials from certifying the results of the 2020 vote confirming a defeat that he had badly digested.
“Our predecessors understood that insurgents who violate their oath would be capable of starting again or could commit the worst if they were allowed to return to power,” said said Ron Fein, legal director of Free Speech for People, which is leading the charge in Minnesota against the former reality TV star, quoted by The Guardian a few weeks ago.
< h2 class="h2-intertitre">How serious are these steps?
For more than a year, different groups of citizens from across the country have sought to legally prevent Donald Trump from putting his name on a ballot again, pointing out the threat that the public agitator poses to the democracy and the integrity of the United States electoral process.
The lawsuits in Colorado and Minnesota are among the strongest and most likely to result in a verdict that could influence the Republican's further political trajectory: they are led by nonpartisan liberal organizations with the necessary financial and legal resources. to manage files of this complexity and scope. They are also played out in States where the legal framework allows rapid challenges to the eligibility of a candidate in an electoral process.
This is not a frivolous lawsuit […] But there is a real challenge for plaintiffs to win their case in court, since when you litigate, every little word and every technical detail makes everything the difference.
— Doug Spencer
“This is not a frivolous lawsuit,” Doug Spencer, a law professor at the University of Colorado, in the pages of the Denver Post, while considering that the association of the ex-president with an act of insurrection in the pursuit which begins this week in this state remains a “credible accusation”. “But there is a real challenge for plaintiffs to win their case in court, because when you litigate, every little word and technical detail makes all the difference. »
How does the Trump clan understand this blow to their re-election campaign?
The Colorado Republican Party is part of the populist's defense team and argues that its members would be disenfranchised if they could not vote for their preferred candidate. Remember that, despite his numerous escapades and his attempts to stay in power against the will of the ballot boxes in 2020, Donald Trump is still leading the Republican campaign for the next presidential election.
“All of President Trump’s speeches are protected by the Constitution” in matters of freedom of expression and presidential immunity, the ex-president’s lawyers wrote in a motion calling on the Denver courts to dismiss the case. They add that there is “no evidence showing” that his statements prior to January 6, 2021 were made to shape an event that day, much less to “encourage people to engage in violence.”< /p>
Last December, the commission of inquiry into January 6 established that “the central cause of January 6 lay in one man: former President Donald Trump. […] None of the events of January 6 would have happened without him.”
Regardless of the verdicts that fall in Minnesota and Colorado, they should be appealed and then end up before the United States Supreme Court and its conservative majority of 6 justices to 3. The highest court in the country did not never spoken on the provision of the Constitution intended to remove from power an elected official who took part in an insurrection.
Is this the first time that a presidential candidate has 'exposed to ineligibility?
So far, two aspiring presidents, Ted Cruz and John McCain, as well as one president, Barack Obama, have had their eligibility challenged in court, each time because of the place of their birth or the nationality of one of them. their parents. This was in 2008, 2012 and 2016. These cases were decided in favor of the three politicians in lower courts and never made it to the United States Supreme Court.
Donald Trump places the insurrection at the heart of a call for the exclusion of a candidate from a vote for the first time.
In 2022, Free Speech for People failed in its attempt to bar ultra-radical Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene from running for re-election in Georgia, based on her participation in the January 6 riots and under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment. This constitutional provision, used very little in the last 160 years of political life in the United States, nevertheless made it possible to remove a commissioner from Otero County, New Mexico, last year. A first since 1869. He broke into the Capitol to prevent elected officials from certifying Joe Biden's victory.
On CNN, Couy Griffin — that's his name — denounced the time a “tyrannical” justice. ” I'm shocked. I am very shocked, he said. I did not expect the state to act against me in this way. I don't know where to go from now on. »