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Trump’s Argument: First Amendment Shields Him from Ballot Exclusion Cases

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Trump’s Argument: First Amendment Shields Him from Ballot Exclusion Cases

Attorneys representing former President Donald Trump are arguing against an attempt to prevent him from appearing on the 2024 ballot through the use of a rarely utilized “insurrection” clause in the Constitution. They claim that such a move would violate his freedom of speech. The legal filing was made in a Colorado court and is part of a series of challenges to Trump’s candidacy under the Civil War-era clause in the 14th Amendment. These challenges are based on Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election results and his role in the January 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol. The attorneys contend that Trump’s actions were limited to speaking or refusing to speak and did not amount to engaging in insurrection.

Trump’s lawyers further argue that the insurrection clause does not apply to him because it only applies to individuals who “engaged in insurrection or rebellion,” not those who merely instigated it. They also claim that the challenge should be dismissed because Trump is not yet considered a candidate under Colorado election law, which they argue is not designed to settle constitutional disputes. This motion, filed under Colorado’s anti-SLAPP law, will be the first of the 14th Amendment challenges filed in multiple states to be heard in open court. A hearing on the motion is scheduled for October 13, followed by a hearing on the constitutional issues on October 30. It is expected that this issue will eventually reach the U.S. Supreme Court, as the court has never ruled on this provision of the 14th Amendment.

One notable aspect of the Colorado challenge is that it was filed by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a liberal group with significant legal resources. Another liberal group called Free Speech For The People has also filed a similar challenge to Trump’s candidacy in Minnesota. Section Three of the 14th Amendment prohibits individuals who engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the Constitution from holding office. This provision was initially aimed at preventing former Confederate officials from assuming positions of power after the Civil War. Trump’s defense of freedom of speech in this case echoes his arguments in criminal cases related to his involvement in the January 6 attack. However, prosecutors and legal experts have noted that Trump’s actions went beyond speech, as he attempted to organize false electors to challenge the election results. The ongoing criminal cases have also influenced the 14th Amendment challenge, with the court issuing an order to prevent threats and intimidation after the plaintiffs expressed concerns about Trump targeting lawyers and witnesses in the criminal proceedings.

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