A federal judge in West Virginia rejected a bid Thursday to remove former President Donald Trump from the state’s ballot, rebuffing a bid from a little-known presidential candidate to remove the former president.
District Judge Irene Berger ruled that John Anthony Castro, the candidate who filed a lawsuit against President Trump, lacked the standing to sue. She sided with attorneys for President Trump, Secretary of State Mac Warner, and the West Virginia GOP to dismiss Mr. Castro’s suit.
U.S. District Judge Irene Berger wrote that the evidence that Mr. Castro had submitted removes “any doubt that Mr. Castro’s purported ‘campaign’ exists as a vehicle for pursuing litigation, not votes,” adding that he could not prove any political activity in the state aside from the lawsuit that he filed.
Mr. Castro, who is based in Texas, has filed at least two dozen lawsuits against the former president to remove him from respective states’ ballots in recent weeks. Earlier this month, a judge in Arizona dismissed a similar lawsuit.
His lawsuit had argued that President Trump should be disbarred from appearing on the state’s ballot because Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution stipulates that anyone who engaged in an insurrection against the United States cannot be a presidential candidate. The U.S. Supreme Court declined in October to hear the appeal of a similar case that Mr. Castro brought in Florida.
A court in Colorado recently ruled that the former president—under the judges’ reading of the provision—cannot appear on the state’s ballots, although the case is likely going to be appealed to the Supreme Court. The Colorado case, however, was not brought by Mr. Castro but by a left-wing activist group, the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, and headed by a board member who currently serves on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s advisory council.
But as Mr. Castro had “alleged that he is a candidate for the Republican nomination for President and anticipates being on the ballot in West Virginia,” his lawsuit “contains few specific factual allegations related to his candidacy,” Judge Berger wrote.
The judge added that “Mr. Castro’s complaint relies on supposition and speculation that if Mr. Trump were removed from the ballot, that his voters and contributors would default to other candidates including Mr. Castro,” adding that “he supplies no specifics to support the conclusion that Trump voters would become Castro voters if his suit was successful.”
“The evidence establishes that he has no campaign offices, staff, or advertising in West Virginia, does not appear in polling, has little name recognition among West Virginia Republican primary voters, and has extremely minimal campaign funds, vastly insufficient to run an actual campaign,” Judge Berger added in her ruling.
“If there were any question as to whether the allegations in the complaint are sufficient to overcome a facial challenge, the evidentiary submissions remove any doubt that Mr. Castro’s purported ‘campaign’ exists as a vehicle for pursuing litigation, not votes.”
After the judge’s ruling on Thursday, West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey hailed the order.
“In the West Virginia case attempting to kick President Trump off the ballot, we have prevailed. Strong victory for our Office and the rule of law! Colorado should learn from the wisdom of our courts!” he wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter.
In response, Mr. Castro, who frequently criticizes President Trump and other GOP candidates like Gov. Ron DeSantis, wrote on X that he disputes Judge Berger’s order, suggesting that he is not “running for President ‘in bad faith’ to ‘manufacture’ standing.”
“So if I was a corrupt POS running for President to enrich myself and corporate oligarchs, they’d find ‘good faith.’ But because I’m running for President based on my principles, they’re saying it’s in ‘bad faith.’ Our system is beyond corrupt,” he wrote. It’s not clear if he will appeal her ruling.
Federal Election Commission records show that Mr. Castro has raised zero dollars via donors. He also has not shown up in any major national or state polls.
Citing their reading of Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment, the Colorado Supreme Court found the former president ineligible for the White House.
“A majority of the court holds that Trump is disqualified from holding the office of president under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment,” the court wrote in its 4-3 decision.
Under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, a clause stipulates that a candidate can be disqualified if a person “engaged in insurrection or rebellion against” the United States or had “given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof.” While the federal government has charged the former president in relation to his activity after the 2020 election, he has not been charged with engaging in an insurrection against the U.S. government or similar crimes.
A number of legal experts and even some Democratic officials have disputed the legitimacy of the 14th Amendment-based attempts to block the former president from running. Some criticized the Colorado Supreme Court’s ruling earlier this week.