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The leading presidential candidates face ballot issues: Trump in two state lawsuits, Biden in NH

The first case to prevent former President Donald Trump from being on the 2024 GOP primary ballot began in Colorado on Monday. The U.S. Supreme Court has never ruled on whether Section 3 of the 14th Amendment would bar a convicted felon from running for the highest office in the land.

Published: October 30, 2023 11:00pm

The two leading presidential candidates are facing ballot issues for the primaries next year, with former President Donald Trump going to court to be placed on the GOP ballot in two states and President Joe Biden opting out of being on the ballot of the first Democratic primary in New Hampshire. 

Trump is facing hearings in two lawsuits this week that each argue that the 14th Amendment's "insurrection" clause in Section 3 bars him from running for the Oval Office again. Meanwhile, Biden’s campaign announced that the president will not be on the first-in-the-nation primary in New Hampshire next year. 

On Monday, hearings for the case of Norma Anderson et al vs. Jena Griswold and Donald J. Trump before the Denver County District Court began with oral arguments from both sides and witnesses for the petitioners. 

The trial is expected to last a week, with the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, on behalf of six voters, suing the Colorado secretary of state and Trump. 

The Colorado GOP has also intervened in the case. 

Petitioners brought forward three witnesses on Monday: Metropolitan Police Department Officer Daniel Hodges, Rep. Eric Swalwell,D-Calif., and former U.S. Capitol Police Officer Winston Pingeon. All three witnesses were at the Capitol on Jan. 6 and testified to what their experiences were that day.

The Colorado state trial will continue on Tuesday with petitioners bringing forward more witnesses.

Founder and president of the Article III Project, Mike Davis, told the “Just the News, No Noise” TV show on Monday that the Colorado case against Trump is a last-resort effort. 

“Now Democrats are running their legal ‘Hail Mary,’” Davis said. “They are afraid President Trump's gonna beat Biden like a drum on November 5th, 2024, so they just want to take President Trump off the ballots altogether and take away that choice from the American people. And they are doing it with this post-Civil War constitutional amendment, Section Three of the 14th Amendment, which disqualifies Confederate sympathizers who fought an insurrection against the Union.” 

Another case to try to take Trump off the state ballot is in Minnesota, where the state Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on Thursday. 

One of the petitioners in the Minnesota case is Democratic former Minnesota Secretary of State Joan Growe. Similar to the Colorado case, the Minnesota lawsuit is centered on the "insurrection" clause of the 14th Amendment. 

Regardless of what the courts decide in the two cases, their rulings are likely to be quickly appealed and eventually reach the U.S. Supreme Court. 

The high court has never ruled on the Civil War-era clause of the 14th Amendment stating that officials who swore to uphold the U.S. Constitution, then "engaged in insurrection or rebellion" against it, are banned from holding higher office.

Democrat Lyndon LaRouche campaigned for president from behind bars in 1991 after being convicted of mail fraud, and in 1920 Socialist Eugene Debs, while serving time for sedition, also ran for president from prison, capturing nearly a million votes.

While Trump faces lawsuits to take him off the 2024 primary ballot, Biden has opted to not be placed on the New Hampshire primary ballot next year. 

Last year, Biden urged Democratic Party officials to make South Carolina the first primary election, rather than New Hampshire. Biden had placed fifth in the 2020 New Hampshire primary election but had a 29-point win in South Carolina’s primary. 

While the Democratic National Committee adopted Biden’s proposal to move the primary elections, New Hampshire indicated that it will keep its first-in-the-nation primary election.

New Hampshire Secretary of State David Scanlan (R) has the exclusive authority to set the primary date but has not done so yet. State law requires the primary to take place at least seven days prior to the next primary election. 

Biden decided to not go back on his proposal to the DNC and chose to stay off the New Hampshire primary ballot. Some state Democratic leaders have begun organizing a write-in effort for Biden in New Hampshire. 

Democratic Party Chairman Raymond Buckley wrote in a post on X (formerly Twitter) on Monday, “To no one’s surprise: leading NH Democrats joined by 100’s of grassroots activists across the Granite State are urging their neighbors to write in Joe Biden in the NH Primary.” 

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