Citing Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment, also known as the Insurrectionist Disqualification Clause, the plaintiffs argue that Trump is constitutionally ineligible for public office after inciting the violent January 6th Capitol insurrection.

BOSTON, MA (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 today 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 asks the Massachusetts Ballot Law Commission to abide by Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment and bar Trump from appearing on the state ballot.

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 clearly disqualifies him from holding any future public office.

Under Massachusetts law, the Ballot Law Commission “shall have jurisdiction over and render a decision on any matter referred to it, pertaining to the … constitutional qualifications of any nominee for … national … office [and] the certificates of nomination or nomination papers filed in any presidential … primary.”

“Donald Trump violated his oath of office and incited a violent insurrection that attacked the U.S. Capitol, threatened the assassination of the Vice President and congressional leaders, and disrupted the peaceful transfer of power for the first time in our nation’s history,” said Ron Fein, Legal Director at Free Speech For People. “Our predecessors understood that oath-breaking insurrectionists will do it again, and worse, if allowed back into power, so they enacted the Insurrectionist Disqualification Clause to protect the republic from people like Trump. Trump is legally barred from the ballot and election officials must follow this constitutional mandate.”

“Today’s legal action is not about partisan politics but about upholding our Constitution, and that is why Massachusetts voters across the political spectrum have joined together to challenge Donald Trump’s wrongful placement on the Massachusetts ballot,” said Shannon Liss-Riordan. “As two other states have already recognized, Donald Trump’s instigation of and participation in the insurrection three years ago provide overwhelming cause for his disqualification from holding office in the United States.”

On behalf of voters, Free Speech For People has also filed legal challenges to Trump’s eligibility to appear on the ballot in Minnesota, Michigan, Oregon and Illinois. The state supreme courts of Minnesota and Michigan have ruled solely on state procedural grounds that Trump will not be barred from the presidential primary ballot but have left the door open for the challenges to be renewed for the general election.  The Oregon challenge is currently pending review before the Oregon Supreme Court. The Illinois objection is pending before the state Board of Elections.

Both the Colorado Supreme Court and the Maine Secretary of State have recently issued rulings that Trump is disqualified from appearing on their state ballots under Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Free Speech For People filed similar Section 3 challenges in 2022 against Georgia Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene and former North Carolina Congressman Madison Cawthorn for their role in the January 6th insurrection. Although those challenges did not result in disqualification (Cawthorn’s because he lost his primary while the challenge was pending; Greene’s because the judge found insufficient factual evidence that she, personally, had engaged in the insurrection), they set important legal precedent that lays the groundwork 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 (including “marching orders or instructions to capture a particular objective, or to disrupt or obstruct a particular government proceeding”) 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.

Free Speech For People, a national nonpartisan legal advocacy group, has spearheaded the nationwide effort to “hold insurrectionists accountable for their role in the violent assault on American democracy” that took place on January 6th, 2021, starting with the issuance in June 2021 of letters to secretaries of state and chief election officials in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.  Along with Mi Familia Vota, the group launched, a campaign calling on Secretaries of State and top election officials across the country to follow the mandate of Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment and permanently bar Donald Trump–and all other elected officials who participated in the January 6th insurrection–from any future ballot.

Click here to read the Objection.

To learn more about the case, click here.

To learn more about Free Speech For People’s other actions under Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment, click here.