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.

SALEM, OR (December 6, 2023) – Free Speech For People (FSFP), along with Oregon co-counsel Jason Kafoury of Kafoury & McDougal and Daniel Meek, filed a lawsuit today in the Oregon Supreme Court on behalf of individual Oregon voters challenging Donald Trump’s candidacy. The lawsuit follows a letter sent to Secretary of State of Oregon, LaVonne Griffin-Valade, urging her to issue a temporary rule (and subsequent declaratory ruling) that Mr. Trump, according to Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment, is constitutionally ineligible to appear on any Oregon future ballot for nomination of election to federal office. 

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.

“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.”

“The United States Constitution makes Donald Trump ineligible to run for or serve in any public office in the country, let alone President,” said attorney Jason Kafoury.  “All Oregon voters, including the plaintiffs, have a well-established right to have only eligible candidates on the ballot. Since Secretary of State Griffin-Valade has announced that Trump will be on the primary ballot unless a court orders otherwise, we are seeking a court order preventing Trump from being on the ballot.”

On behalf of voters, Free Speech For People has also filed legal challenges to Trump’s eligibility to appear on the ballot in Minnesota and Michigan.  The Michigan challenge is currently pending on appeal. 

Free Speech For People filed similar 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 November 17, 2023, after a five-day trial, Judge Sarah Wallace of Colorado’s District Court found that Trump had engaged in insurrection under the Insurrectionist Disqualification Clause. However, she also ruled that Trump is not disqualified based on the meaning of the words “office” and “officer” in the clause. The voters in that case, led by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), have appealed that ruling to the Colorado Supreme Court, and Free Speech For People has filed an amicus brief in support of that appeal.

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. 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. They have sent letters to secretaries of state and chief election officials in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. 

Click here to read the Petition, Statement of Facts, and Memo.

To learn more about the case, click here.