Trump lawyers explain in court filing why Oregon should keep him on ballot

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Lawyers for former President Donald Trump have submitted a filing to the Oregon Supreme Court, laying out the reasons why he should be kept on the primary ballot. Oregon’s top elections official has already said Trump won’t be removed, but she is being sued over that decision.

The advocacy group Free Speech For People filed a lawsuit last month on behalf of five Oregon voters. Their claim is that Trump’s actions on Jan. 6, 2021, disqualifies him from the ballot under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. That clause prevents people from holding office if they have taken part in an insurrection.

The lawsuit was in response to Oregon Secretary of State LaVonne Griffin-Valade’s announcement that she does not have the legal authority to remove Trump from the primary ballot.

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In its lengthy filing to the Oregon Supreme Court responding to the lawsuit, obtained by OPB, Trump’s legal team presented seven reasons why he should appear on the primary ballot. They say that Trump did not engage in an insurrection. And even so, they say that Section 3 of the 14th Amendment doesn’t apply in this case. They also say only Congress can enforce the clause.

Trump’s team also says the plaintiffs lack standing; that state officials can’t exclude presidential candidates from a primary ballot based on eligibility concerns; and that presidential qualification disputes are political questions that cannot be tried in a court of law.

In her Nov. 30 announcement, Secretary Griffin-Valade cited consultations with the Oregon Department of Justice in her decision. She said a presidential primary is not a case of someone being elected. Instead, it’s a chance for voters to tell their party who they prefer to be the nominee. Delegates at the national convention ultimately decide who that nominee will be.

Griffin-Valade also said her decision affects the primary election, not the general election next November. She said, “When the general election comes, we’ll follow the law and be completely transparent with our reasoning.”

The Colorado Supreme Court ruled last month that Trump should be removed from the Colorado primary ballot under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment. Days later, the Maine secretary of state ordered him to be removed from that state’s ballot for the same reason. Both decisions are on hold while appeals are heard.

Trump’s team filed its appeal of the Colorado ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday, but it’s not clear when oral arguments will be heard. It likely that the high court will have the final say on whether Trump appears on the ballot in all the states.

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