State senators Brad Hoylman-Sigal (D-Manhattan) and Liz Krueger (D-Manhattan) are among the five New York Democrat politicians who want the bi-partisan New York State Board of Elections (NYSBOE) to exclude former President Donald Trump from the 2024 presidential primary and general election ballot.
Ms. Krueger, Mr. Hoylman-Sigal, and three other state senators signed a Dec. 7 letter addressed to NYSBOE co-chairs Peter S. Kosinski and Douglas A. Kellner requesting they comply with their oath to support the U.S. Constitution.
“The January 6 insurrection was a violent uprising against the United States that tragically resulted in loss of multiple lives,” the letter states. “That dark day in our nation’s history was led, facilitated, and encouraged by Trump. The Board must not allow those who participated to run again for office against the mandate of the Constitution.”
Other politicians who signed the letter included New York state Sens. Timothy M. Kennedy (D-Buffalo), Gustavo Rivera (D-Bronx), and Shelly B. Mayer (D-Mamoroneck).
The NYSBOE is made up of two Republicans and two Democrats.
Mr. Kellner and Commissioner Andrew J. Spano are Democrats while Mr. Kosinski and Commissioner Anthony J. Casale are Republicans.
As a result, Robert Hornak, political consultant with Lexington Public Affairs, is doubtful a consensus vote to keep President Trump off the primary or general election ballot can be reached.
New York state’s Republican primary is on April 2, 2024, and the general presidential election is on Nov. 5, 2024.
“Why would Republicans tie their own hands assuming President Trump is chosen at the convention,” Mr. Hornak told The Epoch Times. “Why would they want to keep him off the ballot in New York and allow Democrats to run up the popular vote total?”
Mr. Hornak is also the former executive director of the Queens GOP.
The NYSBOE did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The Democrat state senators allege that Section Three of the Fourteenth Amendment applies to President Trump because he allegedly “engaged” in the violence that was seen at the Jan. 6 protest at the U.S. Capitol.
“Having sworn an oath to support the Constitution as an officer of the United States, he then ‘engaged’ in the violent January 6 insurrection as that term is defined by law and precedent,” the letter further states. “As a result, Trump is now ineligible to hold any ‘office . . . under the United States,’ including the presidency, unless and until he is relieved of that disqualification by two-thirds of both chambers of Congress.”
Former New York Republican Congressman John Faso, an attorney, however, said that some fundamental issues in the accusation remain unresolved.
“I think this is just political posturing,” Mr. Faso told The Epoch Times. “I don’t see the letter going anywhere.”
For one thing, in New York state, “insurrection” has yet to be defined, according to Mr. Faso.
“A court would have to make such a finding and, as of yet, no court has made such a finding,” he said.
Although Denver Judge Sarah B. Wallace decided last month that President Trump did “engage in insurrection” on Jan. 6, she also ruled that the Fourteenth Amendment’s Section Three clause does not apply to the U.S. Presidency.
The Fourteenth Amendment, ratified in 1868, granted citizenship and equal rights to enslaved African Americans who were freed in 1863, while Section Three emerged to limit the participation of Confederates in politics after the American Civil War ended in 1865.
Also known as the Insurrectionist Disqualification Clause, Section Three states that no person shall hold any U.S. office, civil or military, who has engaged in insurrection or rebellion.
“If you participated in the Confederate government or the Confederate army or took up arms during the Civil War, you can’t again serve in the U.S. government. But the idea that Trump engaged in insurrection or rebellion within the meaning of that Civil War-era event is just absurd,” John Hinderaker, president of the Center of the American Experiment, told The Epoch Times.
The Center of the American Experiment is a Minnesota-based conservative think tank.
Politics of Trump
Free Speech For People, co-founded by constitutional attorney John Bonifaz, has pioneered similar actions in other states, including Michigan, Oregon, and Minnesota, even though President Trump supporters arrested on Jan. 6 were not in possession of weapons, according to Mr. Hinderaker.
“Not one had a weapon and Trump has not been charged or convicted under the statute that tracks the language of the 14th Amendment that makes it a federal crime to participate in an insurrection or rebellion,” he said.
Regardless, Free Speech For People is on a mission.
On Sept. 12, Free Speech For People attorneys sued Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon on behalf of eight registered Minnesota voters requesting a declaration that President Trump be disqualified from holding the office for his role in Jan. 6.
However, on Nov. 8, the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled that state law allows political parties to elect candidates of their choice during their respective primary elections.
“Theoretically, there could be a different outcome with respect to the general election but I think it’s highly unlikely,” Mr. Hinderaker added. “The whole theory is ridiculous.”
A similar challenge is currently pending on appeal in the Michigan Court of Claims, which adjudicates state complaints against the government.
If the decision to allow political parties to choose their primary presidential candidates is reversed in Michigan, Attorney Matthew DePerno foresees a rise in the alleged weaponization of local prosecutors and statewide attorney generals in coming years.
“Because there would always be the opportunity then or the thought that if you bring charges against a candidate, you can keep them off the ballot,” Mr. DePerno told The Epoch Times. “It would be a very dangerous precedent to set.”
Mr. DePerno, a former candidate for Michigan Attorney General, is on the executive committee of the Kalamazoo County Republican Party and is a delegate.
Oregon could be the first state to rule on removing President Trump from a general presidential election ballot.
Last week, Free Speech For People attorneys sued Oregon Secretary of State LaVonne Griffin-Valade requesting the Oregon Supreme Court issue a peremptory Writ of Mandamus requiring Ms. Griffin-Valade to exclude President Trump from both the Oregon 2024 presidential primary election ballot and the Oregon 2024 general election ballot.
“Since Secretary of State Griffin-Valade has announced that Trump will be on the primary ballot unless a court orders otherwise, we are seeking a court order preventing Trump from being on the ballot,” said Attorney Jason Kafoury in a Free Speech For People press release.
But Mr. Hornak is skeptical that any U.S. court will rule in favor of barring President Trump from either ballot.
“We don’t elect presidents,” he added. “We elect delegates to the convention and then we elect electors to the electoral college. There’s no way you can say the delegates at the convention can’t choose Trump.”