California Dems press state AG Bonta to force court ruling on Trump eligibility under 14th Amendment

September 19, 2023
Ben Marquis

Amid the incessant political attacks against former President Donald Trump by his Democratic -- and Republican -- detractors is a burgeoning state-level attempt to use a provision of the U.S. Constitution's 14th Amendment to disqualify Trump from even appearing on the 2024 ballot, much less actually winning the election and serving a second term in office.

As part of that effort, a group of California Democratic lawmakers have called upon state Attorney General Rob Bonta to intervene on their behalf and ask the state courts to disqualify Trump from appearing on California's primary ballot next year, Breitbart reported.

That move from the California Democrats is slightly different from similar 14th Amendment subversions by Democrats in other states, in that the California push involves the state attorney general while the other state-level Democrats have aimed their requests at their respective secretaries of state, who typically serve as the top election officials.

Deeming Trump disqualified under the 14th Amendment

At issue here is Sec. 3 of the 14th Amendment, which states in the relevant part: "No person shall ... hold any office, civil or military, under the United States ... who, having previously taken an oath ... as an officer of the United States ... 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."

That rarely-used provision, which was passed in the aftermath of the Civil War and was specifically aimed at former officers and politicians of the defeated Confederacy, has now been cited by critics of former President Trump in relation to his supposed incitement of the "insurrection or rebellion" that was the Jan. 6 Capitol riot in 2021.

According to Politico, a group of nine California state legislators led by Assemblymember Evan Low sent a letter to state AG Bonta which cited the Jan. 6 Capitol riot as rendering Trump ineligible to appear on the state's primary ballot in March and called for Bonta's "immediate intervention" to make Trump's disqualification a reality.

Specifically, the lawmakers want Bonta to exploit his unique standing with the courts as the state's top law enforcement official to demand swift "declaratory relief" from a judge on the "unresolved question" of Trump's eligibility for office under the 14th Amendment's disqualification provision.

They are hoping for a fast-tracked ruling prior to Dec. 8, which is the deadline for candidates to be eligible for the March 5 primary election ballots, and Assemblymember Low said, "Whatever the courts decide it is important that they do so quickly to avoid further political strife, and the Attorney General is uniquely positioned to get the American people the answers we need to protect our Republic."

Ballot disqualification efforts unsuccessful thus far

Politico noted that this effort was different from that of other states, where Democrats and activist groups have filed lawsuits or applied pressure to their respective secretaries of state to have former President Trump disqualified and excluded from the 2024 ballot.

Those other efforts have not gone particularly well thus far, according to a CNN report last week, as several of those lawsuits have been summarily dismissed and the targeted secretaries of state, both Republicans and Democrats alike, have been hesitant to unilaterally remove Trump, who is the leading GOP presidential candidate, from next year's ballots, even as several of those secretaries have made no secret of their clear disdain and hatred toward the former president.

Most of those secretaries have, in one form or another, deferred the matter for the courts to decide, much to the dismay of Trump's detractors who insist that there is no need for any debate or discussion on the issue as they have declared him to be ineligible.

Yet, per recent analysis from The Washington Post, those secretaries likely understand that there is extraordinary potential for severe political blowback, if not also legal repercussions if they were to move ahead with the unilateral removal from the ballot of the leading opposition candidate to the incumbent president -- an egregiously partisan action typically only seen in undemocratic third-world banana republics.

Blatant election interference

Indeed, as The American Spectator's Jeffrey Lord recently opined, in addition to a plethora of other concerted attacks against the former president, "The move is now afoot to deny Donald Trump his ability to literally have his name on the ballot, making it impossible for Americans to vote for him."

"Taken together -- or even separately -- the combination of repeated indictments, suppressing news unfavorable to Joe Biden or any other leftist candidate, manipulating the voting rules in the name of COVID, and now boldly trying to literally keep Trump’s name off the ballot is nothing less than out-and-out fascism," he wrote. "A blunt attempt to fix an election -- to rig it to produce the Left’s desired result, in this case the reelection of Joe Biden."

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