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

Free Speech For People (FSFP) and Mi Familia Vota Education Fund (MFVEF) issued letters today to Arizona Secretary of State Adrian Fontes and Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellows, urging them to abide by the US Constitution and bar former President Donald Trump from the ballot. The letters include direct responses to recent public statements made by Secretary Bellows and Attorney General Aaron Frey in Maine and Secretary Fontes in Arizona regarding the Fourteenth Amendment. 

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.

The letter to Arizona Secretary of State Adrian Fontes states, “Under Arizona law, after candidates have submitted their candidacy paperwork, the onus then shifts to the Secretary. Under Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 16-242(F), the Secretary may only certify ‘the names of candidates who are qualified for the presidential preference election ballot.’  Since an insurrectionist is constitutionally unqualified unless and until two-thirds of each house of Congress vote to remove the disability imposed by the Fourteenth Amendment, a declaration by an insurrectionist is inherently defective.”

The letter goes on to conclude that: “Allowing a known insurrectionist to appear on the ballot is inconsistent with your prior commitments and your oath of office to support the U.S. Constitution.”

The letter to Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellows responds directly to an August 30, 2023 statement that the Secretary of State and Attorney General would “research and analyze the legal requirements for ballot access.”

The letter states:  “Ultimately, Maine law leaves you no neutral position. Under your own oath of office to uphold the ‘supreme Law of the Land,’ you may not use your official powers to take any action—including approving a ballot placement—that would facilitate an insurrectionist’s attempt to obtain office.  Allowing a known insurrectionist to appear on the ballot is inconsistent with your prior commitments and your oath of office to support the U.S. Constitution.”

Free Speech For People and Mi Familia Vota Education Fund have previously sent similar letters to chief election officials in 15 other states between April and August 2023 including California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Florida, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

On September 12, 2023, Free Speech For People filed a legal challenge before the Minnesota Supreme Court on behalf of Minnesota voters to bar Donald Trump from appearing on the state’s presidential ballot in 2024. The petition argues Trump is disqualified from holding public office under Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment.

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 letter 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 candidate’s constitutional eligibility for office.

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 Arizona letter here and the Maine letter here.


Free Speech For People is a national nonpartisan nonprofit organization working to defend our democracy, uphold the Constitution, and guarantee every person has an equal voice and an equal vote. Founded on the day of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling in January 2010, Free Speech For People, through its legal work and advocacy, fights to protect voting rights and election security, challenge big money dominance in elections, confront government corruption, and ensure people can participate equally and meaningfully in our democracy. To learn more, please visit www.freespeechforpeople.org.

Mi Familia Vota is a national civic engagement non-profit organization that unites Latino, immigrant, and allied communities to promote social and economic justice through citizenship workshops, voter registration, and voter participation. Mi Familia Vota has operations in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Nevada, and Texas. For more information, please visit www.mifamiliavotingfund.org.