Election officials in Connecticut are reviewing requests to disqualify former President Donald Trump from 2024 election ballots based a provision of the U.S. Constitution, which bars elected officials who engaged in insurrection from serving in office.
In an email Tuesday, Tara Chozet, communications director for Secretary of the State Stephanie Thomas, said their office had received many questions about disqualifying Trump based on Section 3 of the 14th Amendment.
“The issue raises questions on both federal constitutionality and state election laws,” Chozet said. “Our attorneys are diligently reviewing Connecticut’s election laws, over which this office has jurisdiction, to ensure we have the proper interpretation. We understand the urge to move to a conclusion swiftly, however, this is as complex as it is important. Our office’s top priority is to ensure the democratic process is executed to the letter of the law. This is fundamental in preserving voters’ trust in their democracy and desire to engage with their government.”
The constitutional provision dates back to the aftermath of the Civil War, when it was used by Congress to disqualify some former Confederate officials from taking office in the legislature. More recently, a federal appeals court ruled that the 14th Amendment’s eligibility bar was still in play in a 2022 case against former U.S. Rep. Madison Cawthorn, R-NC, though the question became moot when Republican primary voters declined to re-elect Cawthorn.
Arguments for disqualifying Trump rest on the former president’s role in the events surrounding the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol and his efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election he lost to President Joe Biden. Trump and 18 co-defendants are currently facing racketeering charges in Georgia related to allegations they illegally sought to reverse his defeat there.
Efforts to disqualify Trump from next year’s ballots are underway in states including Arizona, Michigan and New Hampshire. Here in Connecticut, one such argument has been brought by New Haven Alderman Maceo Troy Streater and civil rights lawyer Alex Taubes, who wrote to Thomas last week and asked her to conduct a fact-finding hearing on the matter.
“Our position is that he did engage in insurrection against the United States on January 6, 2021, to prevent the peaceful transfer of power to our President, Joseph R. Biden,” Streater and Taubes wrote.
Trump’s campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday. However, a campaign spokesperson characterized the efforts as an “absurd conspiracy theory and political attack” in comments to Fox News.
A report released this week by the Project on Government Oversight and the Citizens for Responsible Ethics in Washington describes efforts to prevent candidates from appearing on ballots as not uncommon in the United States.
The 27-page report detailed a number of cases where candidates were disqualified in states across the country. The report included an example from Connecticut where the state Supreme Court, in 2010, found that then-Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz did not meet the minimum qualifications to run for attorney general because she had not been actively practicing law. Bysiewicz is now in her second term as the state’s lieutenant governor.
“All 50 states and the District of Columbia have excluded candidates who do not meet requirements to appear on the ballot, and excluding Trump and other disqualified insurrectionists can be done through the same mechanisms,” the report read.