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New Hampshire Announces It Will Not Block Trump from the Ballot

The top election official in New Hampshire says he won’t invoke the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution in order to block former President Donald Trump from the ballot in the state that holds the first primary in the Republican nominating calendar.

New Hampshire Secretary of State Dave Scanlan, at a news conference Wednesday at the state house in Concord, also announced that the filing period for the 2024 presidential primary will start on Oct. 11 — meaning it’s nearly all but certain the date of the contest will lead to a collision with the Democratic National Committee.

At the news conference, called in part to address legal efforts by some Republicans in New Hampshire to prevent the former president from getting his name on the 2024 ballot, Scanlan said that as long as Trump “submits his declaration of candidacy and signs it under the penalties of perjury, pays the $1,000 filing fee, his name will appear on the presidential primary ballot.”

“That language is not discretionary,” Scanlan emphasized.

Bryant “Corky” Messner, an attorney and prominent Republican who won the 2020 Republican Senate nomination thanks in great part to Trump’s support, was mulling a lawsuit if Trump filed to put his name on the ballot.

Messner was very publicly questioning the former president’s eligibility to run for the White House, and cited Section 3 of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. That section disqualifies those who’ve taken an oath to support the Constitution from holding office again if they’ve “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” against the U.S. “or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof.”

Separate from Messner’s move, John Anthony Castro — a Texas-based attorney who’s running an extreme long-shot bid for the GOP presidential nomination — filed a lawsuit in a New Hampshire court that aimed to keep Trump off the primary ballot.

A legal advocacy group that had previously targeted Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and then-Rep. Madison Cawthorne of North Carolina over ballot qualifications this summer sent letters to elections officials in nine states asking them to keep Trump from the ballot. And some prominent legal scholars have advanced the argument.

But Scanlan emphasized on Wednesday that “there is no mention in New Hampshire state statute that a candidate in a New Hampshire presidential primary can be disqualified using the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution referencing insurrection or rebellion.”

“There is nothing in the 14th Amendment that suggests that exercising the provisions of that amendment should take place during the delegate selection process as held by the different states,” Scanlan added. “There is nothing in our state statute that gives the Secretary of State discretion in entertaining qualification issues once a candidate swears under the penalties of perjury that they meet the qualifications to be president.”

Scanlan, a former Republican state lawmaker, also sought legal input from the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office. And a concurring statement from state attorney general John Formella highlighted that state law “does not afford the Secretary of State discretion to withhold a candidate’s name from the ballot on the grounds that the candidate may be disqualified under Section Three when a candidate has not been convicted or otherwise.”

Most Secretaries of State have balked at the idea of striking a presidential candidate on their own. Minnesota Secretary of State Scott Simon, a Democrat, said in a statement last week that his office can’t take such action on its own and could only do so if compelled by courts.

The issue will likely only be resolved by the U.S. Supreme Court, which has never ruled on the clause in Section 3 of the 14th Amendment.

READ 70 COMMENTS
  • Jack in the Box says:

    ‘Section 3 of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. That section disqualifies those who’ve taken an oath to support the Constitution from holding office again if they’ve “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” against the U.S. “or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof.”’

    This means you, the people, can sue Joe Biden for giving money to an enemy of the United States of America, namely Iran! Last time I heard Iran mentioned it were still an enemy of the USA! Biden is a criminal and should be prosecuted for high treason, so should all dems who have gone after Trump since he took office in 2017!

    Demand impeachment on the Biden crime cartel!

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