By Leonard E. Colvin
New Journal and Guide
Donald Trump is facing a long list of legal troubles including the January 6, 2021 insurrection, fraud charges in New York, and eight other Republicans who want to deny him their party’s nomination.
Now political action groups and individuals have been filing legal action to keep him from even qualifying to be on the 2024 primary or general election ballots of many states.
Most of the suits are focused on claims he violated Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, which says that a person who “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” after taking an oath of office to support the Constitution should be prevented from running for office again.
There have also been calls for secretaries of state to block Trump from the ballots over allegations he incited the January 6, insurrection which sought to stop the certification of the 2020 Presidential election.
Trump, the frontrunner in the GOP presidential primary, has denied all wrongdoing.
But two civil and political rights activists from Hampton Roads, Roy L. Perry-Bey and Carlos A. Howard, believe a suit they filed recently may be the magic wand to end Trump’s bid.
The duo’s suit filed recently in a federal court is against Trump, the Virginia State Board of Elections, and the Virginia Department of Elections.
The suit, they say, “removes the lack of clarity about who has standing to bring the challenges to the eligibility of candidates aspiring to become president.”
Perry-Bey was successful in organizing a suit which caused the Federal District Court to force the city of Virginia Beach to abolish its at-large system of electing council and School Board. He also assisted lead attorneys in the legal case in the early 1990s to convince the federal court to abolish Norfolk’s at-large election system.
Perry-Bey, who devised the current suit against Trump, said it is different from others.
He said his suit cites Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, as well as the Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution’s 14th Amendment.
In using Section 2 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, Perry-Bey and Howard allege that Trump worked with others to deny or abridge the right to choose a candidate of the voter’s choice based on race or color.
Perry-Bey says the suit challenges the Virginia State Board of Elections and the Virginia Department of Elections in their voting standard, practice, procedure, or method of enforcing elections (or lack thereof) to determine the eligibility of candidates aspiring to become president.
According to the suit, the Virginia State Board of Elections, Virginia Department of Elections, and the Attorney General’s Office must take a position against former President Trump in the Commonwealth of Virginia regarding Section 3 of the 14th Amendment for the upcoming 2024 presidential election cycle.
Perry-Bey said most of the cases arising under Section 2 of the VRA since its enactment involved challenges to at-large election schemes. But, he said, Section 2’s prohibition against discrimination in voting applies nationwide to any voting standard, practice, or procedure that results in the denial or abridgment of the right of any citizen to vote on account of race, color, or membership in a language minority group.
Section 2 is permanent and has no expiration date as do certain other provisions of the Voting Rights Act.
Perry-Bey is also using a filing with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) claiming Trump’s statement of candidacy was improper or fraudulent.
He said the FEC should investigate Trump based on the Congressional certification proceeding on January 6, 2021, which triggered Section 3 of the 14th Amendment’s “disqualification clause.” That clause states that an elected official is not eligible to assume public office if that person “Engaged in insurrection or rebellion against” the United States, or had “given aid or comfort to the enemy.”
Another suit was filed by a liberal group last week to bar Trump from the primary ballot in Colorado, arguing he is ineligible to run for the White House, again using the 14th Amendment. The complaint was filed on behalf of six Republican and unaffiliated Colorado voters by the group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.
U.S. Senator Tim Kaine (D-Virginia) told ABC News recently that he thinks there’s a strong argument for the case.
The 14th Amendment ratified in 1868, helped ensure civil rights for freed slaves – and eventually for all people in the United States. But it also was used to prevent former Confederate officials from becoming members of Congress after the Civil War and taking over the government against which they had just rebelled.
The clause cited in the lawsuit allows Congress to lift the ban, which it did in 1872 as the political will to continue to bar former Confederates dwindled. The provision was almost never used after that.
The 14th Amendment was used last year to bar from office a New Mexico County commissioner who entered the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.
Photo by Ekaterina Bolovtsova