On January 4, 2024, Free Speech For People (FSFP), along with nationally recognized litigator Shannon Liss-Riordan of the Massachusetts-based civil rights firm Lichten & Liss-Riordan, P.C., filed a challenge before the Massachusetts Ballot Law Commission on behalf of individual Massachusetts voters challenging Donald Trump’s eligibility to appear on the state’s presidential primary and general election ballot. The challengers are a mix of Republican, Independent, and Democratic voters and include former Boston Mayor Kim Janey and two leading law professors. The challenge asked the Massachusetts Ballot Law Commission to abide by Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment and bar Trump from appearing on the state ballot.

On January 22, 2024, the Ballot Law Commission dismissed the challenge for lack of jurisdiction. On January 23, the plaintiffs filed an emergency appeal to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court.


Key Facts

Caption Chafee v. Massachusetts Ballot Law Commission
Court Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court
Docket No.
Status Emergency petition filed
Plaintiffs Massachusetts voters
Defendants Massachusetts State Ballot Law Commission


Section Three of the Fourteenth Amendment, known as the Disqualification Clause, provides: “No Person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress. . . who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress . . . 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.” The purpose of the Disqualification Clause, passed in the wake of the Civil War, was to protect the country.

Trump’s involvement in the coordinated and violent attack on the United States Capitol in an effort to prevent Congress from certifying the election results on January 6, 2021, disqualifies him from holding future public office. State election officials do not need permission from Congress to enforce this, just as they do not need it to enforce the U.S. constitution in general.


In parallel with but separately from this litigation, Free Speech For People and Mi Familia Vota Education Fund are co-leading a national campaign to ensure that election officials across the country follow the mandate of Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Previous 14Point3 Cases

In 2022, Free Speech For People filed similar challenges against Georgia Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene and former North Carolina Congressman Madison Cawthorn, for their roles in the January 6th insurrection.

Although those challenges did not result in disqualification (Cawthorn’s because he lost his primary; Greene’s because the judge found insufficient factual evidence that she, personally, had engaged in the insurrection), they set important legal precedent for this challenge, including: that states have legal authority to adjudicate Section 3 challenges; that state processes for adjudicating Section 3 challenges do not violate a candidate’s constitutional rights; that no prior criminal conviction is required under Section 3 challenge; that words can constitute engaging in insurrection; and that an 1872 congressional amnesty for ex-Confederates does not apply to January 6.

On September 6, 2022, Judge Francis J. Matthew of New Mexico’s First District permanently enjoined Otero County Commissioner and “Cowboys for Trump” founder Couy Griffin from holding office under the Insurrectionist Disqualification Clause.

Major Developments and Documents