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Lawsuit Seeking to Prevent Trump From Appearing On 2024 PA Ballot Filed in Commonwealth Court

Donald Trump speaking on January 6, 2021

Could former President Donald Trump be barred from appearing on Pennsylvania’s 2024 presidential primary and/or general election ballot?

Yes, if John A. Castro has his way.

Castro, a little-known candidate for the GOP presidential nomination from Texas, has filed a complaint against Trump and Secretary of the Commonwealth Al Schmidt to block Trump’s name from being placed on the ballot. He claims that the former president “provided aid or comfort to insurrectionists” who stormed the Capitol, thus disqualifying hm from holding or even pursuing any public office.

The lawsuit is seeking an injunction from the Commonwealth Court to prevent Schmidt from accepting or processing any documents toward a Trump candidacy.

Pennsylvania is not the lone state in which Castro has filed suit in the same manner. In January, he filed in Florida but a judge – controversial Trump appointee Aileen Cannon – dismissed the case because it lacked standing. He since has appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit and, the U.S. Supreme Court, to rule that he has standing to sue the former president. The Federal Election Commission (FEC) previously dismissed a similar lawsuit Castro filed against Trump, also ruling he lacked standing in the case.

Castro has also filed suits in Arizona and New Hampshire.

The 14th Amendment (section 3) reads:

“No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice-President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.”

In an article written for the University of Pennsylvania Law Review, prominent conservative law professors William Baude and Michael Paulsen conclude that Trump must be barred from the ballot due to that clause.

“Taking Section Three seriously means excluding from present or future office those who sought to subvert lawful government authority under the Constitution in the aftermath of the 2020 election,” they write.

In an article for The Atlantic, retired former federal judge J. Michael Luttig and top legal scholar Laurence Tribe make a similar due to the “disqualification clause.” It’s only two sentences long but it could doom Trump’s bid to return to the White House. The disqualification clause “forbids the former president from holding the office of the presidency again because of his conduct in and around January 6, 2021,” says Judge Luttig. And as Tribe points out, it’s not a sanction against an individual. “The framers of the 14th Amendment took great care not to treat this as a punishment … Nobody has a right to be president without meeting the qualifications.”

The pair also spoke to MSNBC’s Ali Velshi about the article.

Although Castro has taken the bull by the horns and filed those lawsuits in the three states, there are continued questions about his standing, as well as the veracity of some his campaign claims to date, that could cause his suits to be dismissed.

The 39-year-old Castro filed his candidacy for president in January 2022 and campaign finance reports filed with the Federal Election Commission indicate that he loaned his campaign $20 million back in March. His website says that he graduated from Georgetown University Law Center and earned his Juris Doctor from the University of New Mexico Law School, although he is not licensed to practice law.

Despite his loan that was reported to the FEC, Castro has been sued by American Express for an outstanding credit card bill of $53,923.74, and recently requested a pro bono lawyer in a lawsuit brought by a former tax client, hinting that he could not afford a lawyer.

7 Responses

  1. Trump should automatically be disqualified. The man planned an insurrection in plain view on Twitter, they had shirts printed, buses paid for and committed violence on national television and approximately 40 percent of our electorate will vote for him again. Hate is a powerful drug.

    1. Agreed!!! If he was 18 years old, he could not run for president. He has been indicted for exactly what this amendment states. It’s cut and dried. He should be barred from office.

    2. Yes hate is a powerful thing, and this Amendment 14 stuff is exactly the product of that. It’s nothing but people who hate democracy and our norms toobining over it.

      1. The 14th Amendment is not “stuff.” It is part and parcel of the Constitution and was added for exactly the type of person to which it now applies.

  2. There no question – he is constitutionally barred from seeking elected office at any level.

    In fact, it should be a violation of election laws that he is grifting and accepting campaign donations when he is clearly using the donations for personal financial gain to carry on his charade of a political campaign.

    1. Actually there is no question he is NOT constitutional barred. He did not participate in an insurrection or rebellion (which require actual violence for actual purpose of changing the government – neither of which happened on J6) nor did he provide aid and comfort to any such thing (so even if other people did the former, the latter does not apply to him).

      It’s so funny that people are like “What Trump did was a threat to democracy and violated the norms of the country!” and the same people are like “Lets remove Trump from the ballot to stop democracy and change the norms of the country!” – not to mention he did nothing Democrats didn’t also do.

      1. That someone pretending to be Patrick Henry would make such fallacious claims as to Trump’s non-participation is beyond the pale.


  • Understanding that basic education funding should/will be first, what should be the next highest priority for the General Assembly?

    • Raising The Minimum Wage (25%)
    • Legalizing Adult-Use Marijuana (24%)
    • None of the above. Something Else. (20%)
    • Economic Development (14%)
    • Higher Education (8%)
    • Public Transportation (8%)
    • Workforce Opportunities and Innovation (2%)

    Total Voters: 51

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