Trump’s Oregon Battle Could Be of Little Consequence
The legal battle to keep Donald Trump on the Oregon 2024 primary ballot could be academic because Oregon is one of the last states to hold its GOP contest – the nomination race could be a fait accompli before the Supreme Court ruling.
Former president must be removed from the ballot for ‘insurrection’
Donald Trump’s Oregon nomination is opposed by the Free Speech for People liberal advocacy group that wants the former president removed from the ballot for ‘insurrection.’
According to his critics, Trump’s efforts to reverse the 2020 election results, and his support of the attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, are an insurrection that invalidates his eligibility to run for office in terms of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The amendment prohibits candidates from holding office if they ‘engaged in insurrection or rebellion’ and previously took an oath to uphold the Constitution.
Two attorneys from Portland are representing the Oregon voters and liberal advocacy group and filed final documents on Tuesday following the Oregon Supreme Court request for an additional two-prong brief outlining:
- If the voters and national advocacy group members are legally entitled to sue and
- If state laws allow Oregon’s Secretary of State, LaVonne Griffin-Valade, to make a presidential candidate qualification ruling.
With the final documents in hand, a Supreme Court ruling is imminent.
LaVonne Griffin-Valade’s stance is that she lacks the authority to examine Trump’s eligibility because state law surrounding candidate qualifications applies to general elections and not to GOP primaries.
Voters do not elect nominees during primaries. Instead, voters direct national convention delegates on who to vote for. The Oregon Republican Party rules that all delegates must support the winner of the state’s primary. The results of a separate state party convention on May 25 will decide the state’s delegates to the Republican convention.
Griffin-Valade, a Democrat, has given March 21 as the deadline for finalizing the names for the Republican primary ballot. The Oregon primary takes place on May 21.
States make contradictory validation rulings
The Oregon ballot battle is Trump’s latest following a whirlwind of court hearings in the last few weeks, with different states making contradictory decisions.
Earlier this week, the Colorado Supreme Court ruling to disqualify the former president from holding office again was the first victory in a chain of legal disputes across the country. No less than 16 states beyond Colorado are involved in legal challenges to Trump’s eligibility to run for office in terms of the 14th Amendment.
He has been removed from the ballot in Colorado and Maine, whereas rulings were in his favor in Michigan and Minnesota.
Colorado Supreme Court and Maine Secretary of State barred Trump from the ballot based on the 14th Amendment against insurrectionists. These decisions will be appealed.
Trump’s intervention in the Oregon case was submitted in a 162-page brief last December that questioned Griffin-Valade and state courts’ presidential qualification decision-making. Trump’s attorneys also objected to claims that he was involved in acts of insurrection.
Trump argued that Oregon voters have no standing or the right to take legal action because none of them are Republican presidential candidates or voters. They will not be stopped from voting for a candidate of their choice because of his presence as a Republican candidate.
The Oregon voter attorneys responded by pointing out that the state’s Supreme Court has broad authority in matters of urgency and public importance. The brief stated that “…only ordinary voters can protect democracy by seeking such enforcement when officials do not act.”
The brief also stated that the “absence of plaintiffs or relators with special motivation (and financial resources) to seek enforcement of the 14th Amendment, Section 3, against a particular state or federal candidate means that only ordinary voters can protect democracy by seeking such enforcement when officials do not act.”
The 14th Amendment
The 14th Amendment was ratified after the Civil War and requires US officials to take an oath to uphold the Constitution. They will be disqualified from future office if they engage in “insurrection” or give “aid or comfort” to insurrectionists.
The Constitution does not explain how these actions must be enforced, and raises legal questions about its application to the office of the president.