Former President Donald Trump has received the green light to be on New York’s Republican presidential primary ballot, although a Democrat state senator is threatening to challenge the decision in court.
Two Republicans on the New York State Board of Elections (NYSBOE), who make eligibility decisions for GOP presidential candidates, both voted during a Feb. 6 meeting in Albany to grant President Trump a spot on the state’s 2024 presidential primary ballot.
The NYSBOE’s decision comes as two states, Maine and Colorado, have moved to block President Trump from their ballots on the grounds of the 14th Amendment. Officials allege that he engaged in “insurrection” by giving an impassioned speech on Jan. 6, 2021, that allegedly encouraged supporters to protest over his claims of a rigged 2020 presidential election.
Both states’ attempts to block the former president from the ballot are frozen pending a review by the U.S. Supreme Court, which is scheduled to hear oral arguments and issue a written opinion on Feb. 8.
With speculation building for that high-stakes Supreme Court hearing, court watchers have expressed skepticism about whether the conservative-leaning court would block President Trump from running for office.
Republican NYSBOE Commissioner Anthony Casale said during the Feb. 6 eligibility meeting that “much” correspondence had been received asking the officials to block President Trump from the ballot. However, he and Peter Kosinski, the other GOP commissioner, said none of the requests qualified as an official objection, which requires an objector to take a series of specific steps after a candidate files for access.
Still, the board’s decision is likely to face a legal challenge.
‘I Will See Them in Court’
New York state Sen. Brad Hoylman-Sigal, along with New York City council members Shekar Krishnan and Gertrude Fitelson, all Democrats, filed what they said was an “objection” on Feb. 6, arguing that President Trump should be barred on grounds of the 14th Amendment’s “insurrectionist” disqualification clause.
Mr. Hoylman-Sigal said that if the NYSBOE decides to grant President Trump ballot access, he would file an appeal with the New York Supreme Court.
“As the Colorado State Supreme Court has already rightfully ruled, Donald Trump is disqualified from holding any elected office in the United States due to engaging in and inciting a violent insurrection in which he attempted to overturn the will of the American people while taking multiple lives,” Mr. Hoylman-Sigal said in a statement.
“Should the Board of Elections fail to do their duty and rule Trump ineligible, I will see them in court.”
Mr. Hoylman-Sigal was among a group of five Democrat state senators who penned a letter to the BOE, asking it to disqualify President Trump, claiming that he “engaged in insurrection.”
New York holds its presidential primary on April 2.
President Trump has repeatedly denied involvement in an insurrection, pointing out that he called for his supporters to “peacefully and patriotically” make their voices heard on Jan. 6, 2021.
He has described the various efforts to block him from the ballot based on 14th Amendment grounds as part of a ploy by his political rivals to undermine his bid for a White House comeback. He also labeled President Joe Biden as an “insurrectionist,” citing the president’s border policies as proof and accusing him of “destroying” America with his radical anti-fossil fuel policies.
President Trump, who’s the frontrunner by far in the Republican primary contest, maintains a slight lead over President Biden nationally.
In a show of support for the former president’s efforts to reject the “insurrection” claims, Reps. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) and Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) unveiled a resolution on Feb. 6 that declares that President Trump “did not engage in insurrection or rebellion against the United States.”
President Trump has called the various 14th Amendment cases in various states “election interference.”
What Will SCOTUS Do?
Legal experts have said that there are several ways the Supreme Court could reverse the Colorado decision without weighing into the substance of whether President Trump “engaged in insurrection” on Jan. 6, 2021.
One such way would be for the Supreme Court to say the U.S. president isn’t an “officer of the United States” but part of the executive branch and therefore rule that Section 3 of the 14th Amendment simply doesn’t apply.
The nation’s top court could also vacate the Colorado court’s decision and instruct it to revisit the case at a later date.
In a recent appearance on Fox News, President Trump told Sean Hannity that he’s confident that the Supreme Court “is going to say, ‘We’re not going to take the vote away from the people.’”
During the Feb. 8 hearing, President Trump’s attorneys will have 40 minutes to present oral arguments; the respondents will have 30 minutes.
Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold, who has labeled President Trump an “ineligible insurrectionist,” will have 10 minutes to make her case as to why she thinks he should be barred from the ballot.