Under the Fourteenth Amendment’s Insurrectionist Disqualification Clause, Trump’s incitement of the January 6th insurrection bars him from holding public office.

BOSTON, MA (July 12, 2023) – Free Speech For People (FSFP) and Mi Familia Vota Education Fund (MFVEF) issued letters today to Secretaries of State and chief election officials in nine states, urging them to abide by the US Constitution and bar former President Donald Trump from the ballot. According to Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment, also known as the Insurrectionist Disqualification Clause, by swearing an oath to uphold the Constitution and subsequently inciting and facilitating the violent January 6th attack on the Capitol, Trump is ineligible to run for office again.

Free Speech For People and Mi Familia Vota Education Fund sent letters to Oregon Secretary of State LaVonne Griffin-Valade, California Secretary of State Shirley Weber, Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth William Francis Galvin, Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold, Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, New York State Board of Elections Co-Chairs Peter Kosinski and Douglas Kellner, members of the North Carolina State Board of Elections, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, and Pennsylvania Secretary of the Commonwealth Al Schmidt. The organizations delivered a similar letter to Nevada Secretary of State Cisco Aguilar in early April.

Enacted in the wake of the Civil War, Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment disqualifies from public office, regardless of a prior criminal conviction, any individual who has taken an oath to uphold the U.S. Constitution and then engages in insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or gives aid or comfort to its enemies. Trump’s involvement in the violent attack on Congress to prevent the certification of democratic election results disqualifies him from holding any future public office.

“[S]ince 1868, the qualifications for eligibility for the presidency—in addition to natural-born citizenship, age, and residency—have also included not having engaged in insurrection against the United States after having taken an oath to support the Constitution,” the letters read. “And Trump does not meet that qualification.”

FSFP and MFVEF also argue that state election officials have the power to enforce the Insurrectionist Disqualification Clause without express permission from Congress. They note that nothing in the text, original public meaning, or the Reconstruction-era history of Section 3’s implementation suggests that states need authorization from Congress to implement this part of the Constitution. During Reconstruction, states repeatedly enforced Section 3 in exactly that circumstance, and two different states (Georgia and New Mexico) heard Section 3 challenges against those involved in the January 6th insurrection in 2022. These challenges did not need any special federal legislation, relying on standard state legal procedures for challenging a politician’s constitutional eligibility for office.

“While the US Justice Department, along with state and local authorities, must hold Donald Trump accountable for all crimes that he has committed, secretaries of state and chief election officials across the country must carry out their responsibility to follow the mandate of the Constitution and the Insurrectionist Disqualification Clause and bar Trump from any future ballot,” said Free Speech For People President John Bonifaz. “Criminal prosecutions will establish Trump’s liability under the law. But the enforcement of Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment against Trump will ensure that our republic is protected and that this insurrectionist-in-chief is forever disqualified from holding any future public office.”

“The evidence is overwhelming that Donald Trump incited and mobilized the insurrection on January 6, 2021 at our nation’s Capitol,” said Alexandra Flores-Quilty, Campaign Director for Free Speech For People. “The US Constitution is clear that anyone who takes an oath of office and then engages in insurrection is forever barred from holding public office again. Election officials must carry out their duty, follow this constitutional mandate, and bar Trump from the ballot.”

Irving Zavaleta, Mi Familia Vota National Programs Manager said:  “Secretaries of State and state election officials are well within their authority to bar former President Donald Trump from the ballot. We all know that Donald Trump incited an insurrection to stop the certification of the 2020 election. Under Section Three of the Fourteenth Amendment, anyone who has taken the oath of office to defend the Constitution and then engages in an insurrection is disqualified from holding future public office. Trump is disqualified, and we strongly urge election officials to bar him from the ballot.” 

Free Speech For People has called for applying the Insurrectionist Disqualification Clause to Donald Trump since June 2021. The organization, in partnership with Mi Familia Vota Education Fund, launched the Trump is Disqualified campaign following Trump’s announcement of his 2024 presidential bid in November 2022. Click here for more information on the campaign.

Read the letters here.