Arizona law is on the side of allowing former President Donald Trump to be on the 2024 ballot, according to Arizona Secretary of State Adrian Fontes.
Some of Trump’s opponents claim Trump is barred by the 14th Amendment from ever holding federal office again.
Originally intended to keep former Confederate officials out of the federal government after the Civil War, Section 3 of the 14th Amendment disqualifies from public office any individual who “engaged in insurrection or rebellion against” the Constitution. The Amendment was ratified in 1868.
In Trump’s case, the claim runs that he is tainted by the Capitol incursion on Jan. 6, 2021.
Fontes initially told NBC News that his office was taking the issue “very seriously.”
Fontes said an Arizona Supreme Court case appears to tie his hands, according to The Hill.
“Now, the Arizona Supreme Court said that because there’s no statutory process in federal law to enforce Section 3 of the 14th amendment, you can’t enforce it,” Fontes said on a podcast by The Arizona Republic and azcentral.com.
“That’s what the Arizona Supreme Court said, so that’s the state of the law in Arizona. Now, do I agree with that? No, that’s stupid,” Fontes said.
In the podcast, Fontes implied there was no wiggle room.
“What I’m saying is I’m going to follow the law,” Fontes said. “And the law in Arizona is what the law in Arizona is. Whether I like it or not is irrelevant.”
However, in a later interview, Fontes said no final ruling has been made, according to the Arizona Republic.
“It’s still an open question. Arizona law is not the only law we have,” he said.
Fontes noted that he expects that the ruling and Arizona law could change once whatever decision he makes is challenged in court.
The group Free Speech for People is one that will push to keep Trump off the ballot.
“We have been clear that all secretaries of state and chief election officials must follow the mandate of section 3 of the 14th amendment,” Ron Fein, the group’s legal director, said.
Michael McConnell, a law professor at Stanford University, said not only would such a case be a duel over how to interpret the amendment, it could also be a dangerous precedent, according to PBS.
“It’s not just about Trump. Every election where someone says something supportive of a riot that interferes with the enforcement of laws, their opponents are going to run in and try to get them disqualified,” he said.