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ACLJ Files Amicus Brief Urging Minnesota Supreme Court To Dismiss Case Demanding President Trump Be Removed From the State Presidential Ballot


Laura Hernandez

October 27, 2023

3 min read

Election Law



Last week, the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) filed an amicus brief urging the Minnesota Supreme Court to toss out a lawsuit attempting to have Donald Trump stricken from the state presidential ballot. In Growe v. Simon, the petitioners are a group of eight Minnesota voters who filed a petition with the Minnesota Supreme Court asking the Court to “exclude Donald J. Trump from the ballots for the November 5, 2024, general election as a candidate for the office of President of the United States.”

As we told you here, there have now been more than a dozen lawsuits filed around the country whose sole purpose is to keep America’s voters from having the opportunity to vote for former President Donald Trump if they so choose.  Like all the other lawsuits, the Minnesota petition claims that a rarely invoked provision of the 14th Amendment, Section 3, gives them the right to claim that President Trump should be disqualified from even running for the presidency. As we explained more fully here, Section 3 (the disqualification clause) was aimed at former officers and soldiers of the Confederacy. Its purpose was to “put some sort of stigma upon the leaders of this [Civil War] rebellion,” as one Senator who voted to ratify the 14th Amendment put it. The disqualification clause states:

No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any state, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any state legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any state, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.

There is no historical evidence that Section 3 was intended to extend beyond the Reconstruction era. But that doesn’t stop those desperate to remove Donald Trump from the presidential ballot. 

In our brief, we argue that Section 3 cannot be used by private parties to disqualify a candidate for the presidency. To the extent Section 3 has any application 160 years after the Civil War, it must be enforced by Congress. We present recent historical scholarship establishing that Section 3 could only be enforced by enabling legislation from Congress and that due process principles required a criminal proceeding to determine the guilt of anyone charged with insurrection or rebellion.

In an interesting development Friday night, the Minnesota Supreme Court issued an order noting that the parties in the case had missed a 2012 Minnesota Supreme Court decision in which the court held that only Congress could decide challenges to the qualifications of an individual to serve as President. The case involved a challenge to former President Barack Obama’s eligibility to run for President. The court requested the parties to submit a supplemental briefing by Wednesday this week on the impact of the 2012 decision.

The Court’s Friday order is a hopeful sign that it recognizes that it lacks authority under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment to disqualify Donald Trump from Minnesota’s presidential ballot.

With your ongoing support, we will continue the fight against an unprecedented assault on Americans’ constitutional right to vote.

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