Austin, Texas-based nonprofit Free Speech for People has filed a lawsuit in the Oregon Supreme Court seeking to block former President Donald J. Trump from Oregon’s 2024 ballot.
The group, working with two veteran Oregon trial lawyers who frequently handle election cases, Dan Meek and Jason Kafoury, are making a fairly straightforward argument, which it presented to the state’s top elections official, Secretary of State Lavonne Griffin-Valade, last month:
“In the months leading up to the January 6, 2021, assault on the United States Capitol, and while his supporters were sacking the Capitol, former President Donald J. Trump incited and facilitated an insurrection against the United States,” the group’s letter said. “Mr. Trump has declared his candidacy for president again in 2024. However, under the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, Mr. Trump is constitutionally ineligible to appear on any future ballot for federal office based on his engagement in insurrection against the United States.”
Griffin-Valade already considered that argument and, after consultation with lawyers at the Oregon Department of Justice, rejected it.
Here’s the explanation she gave Nov. 30:
“State law treats presidential primary elections differently than other elections where the secretary has the authority to disqualify a candidate,” Griffin-Valade said. “In a presidential primary, voters are not deciding who will hold office or even who will go on the general election ballot. Instead, they are communicating their preference to party delegates who choose a nominee at the party’s nominating convention.”
In their complaint, Meek and Kafoury cite Section 3 of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the disqualification clause, which says no candidate can hold any office who “shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same.”
“The United States Constitution makes Donald Trump ineligible to run for or serve in any public office in the country, let alone president,” Kafoury said. “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.”
Free Speech for People is pursuing the same argument in states across the country.