Legal Proceedings Underway to Exclude Trump from Presidential Ballot Based on ‘Insurrection’ Clause

by Sophia Chen
Insurrection Clause and 2024 Presidential Eligibility

The initiative to disqualify former President Donald Trump from future presidential elections through the application of the “insurrection” clause of the U.S. Constitution is moving into a critical stage. This week, hearings are set to commence in two states, and the cases could potentially escalate to the United States Supreme Court for adjudication.

Legal proceedings kick off on Monday in Colorado with a weeklong hearing to examine a lawsuit aimed at preventing Trump from appearing on the state’s ballot. Concurrently, oral arguments are slated for Thursday before the Minnesota Supreme Court in a similar effort to remove Trump’s name from the electoral list in Minnesota.

Irrespective of the lower court rulings—whether they permit Trump to remain on the ballots or remove him—the decisions are anticipated to be quickly contested through appeals, potentially advancing to the U.S. Supreme Court. The apex court has yet to interpret the 14th Amendment’s Civil War-era clause, which forbids individuals who have sworn to uphold the Constitution but subsequently participated in an insurrection from holding high office.

Law professor Derek T. Muller of Notre Dame University noted that while eligibility of presidential candidates has been a subject of legal scrutiny in the past—as in the cases of Barack Obama, Ted Cruz, and John McCain—those challenges primarily questioned candidates’ status as “natural born citizens.” The current cases are unique, as they invoke a lesser-known constitutional provision specifically targeting insurrection.

Further Context

Numerous lawsuits invoking Section Three of the 14th Amendment have been filed recently. However, those originating in Colorado and Minnesota have been highlighted as particularly crucial by legal experts. The significance of these cases arises from the fact that they have been brought forth by two well-resourced liberal groups and focus on states with streamlined processes for challenging candidates’ ballot qualifications. This makes these cases more legally robust in persuading the courts to compel electoral officials to disqualify Trump.

The plaintiffs argue that Trump’s actions to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election, culminating in the attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, effectively disqualify him from the presidency, much like not being a natural-born citizen would.

The Colorado lawsuit, represented by the liberal advocacy organization Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, contends that by initiating an unparalleled assault on American constitutional governance, Trump violated his oath of office and thus rendered himself ineligible for public office under the 14th Amendment.


In response, Trump has lambasted the lawsuits as a form of “election interference.” His legal team argues that the insurrection clause, a provision of the Constitution not invoked for 150 years, was never designed to apply to the office of the President. They further argue that the clause allows for amnesty by Congress and insist that Trump never engaged in insurrection but was merely exercising his First Amendment rights.

The upcoming hearings in Colorado may feature testimonies related to the events of January 6 or other key moments in Trump’s endeavors to reverse the 2020 election results. Lawyers are expected to scrutinize exhaustively the historical origins and applications of the 14th Amendment’s insurrection provision, particularly since legal precedents on this issue are scant.

Recent Developments

This legal mechanism has been employed sparingly since the Civil War and only once after an amnesty act was passed in 1872. Recently, however, it was utilized to disqualify the leader of “Cowboys for Trump” from a county commission seat in rural New Mexico. Another liberal organization, Free Speech For People, has filed lawsuits attempting to prevent Republican Representatives Marjorie Taylor Greene and Madison Cawthorn from seeking re-election, although with varying degrees of success.

Thus, these cases could pave the way for new legal interpretations and set precedents that impact not only the future of individual politicians but also the broader American electoral landscape.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Insurrection Clause and Presidential Eligibility

What is the central focus of the legal proceedings discussed in the text?

The central focus of the legal proceedings is to determine whether former President Donald Trump can be disqualified from running for future presidential elections under the “insurrection” clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Hearings are set to begin in Colorado and Minnesota, and these cases have the potential to reach the U.S. Supreme Court.

What is the “insurrection” clause in the 14th Amendment?

The “insurrection” clause is a provision in Section Three of the 14th Amendment that prohibits individuals who have sworn an oath to support the Constitution and have later participated in an insurrection against it from holding public office. This provision has not been invoked frequently and has never been tested in the context of presidential eligibility.

Who are the key players in these legal proceedings?

The key players include plaintiffs represented by two well-resourced liberal groups—Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington in the Colorado case and Free Speech For People in the Minnesota case. The defendant in both instances is former President Donald Trump.

What makes these cases different from past challenges to presidential eligibility?

Unlike past challenges, which primarily focused on whether candidates were “natural born citizens,” these cases are unique as they invoke a lesser-known constitutional provision specifically dealing with insurrection. The cases also focus on states with streamlined processes for challenging candidates’ ballot qualifications, making them more legally robust.

What is the stance of Donald Trump and his legal team regarding these lawsuits?

Donald Trump and his legal team categorize these lawsuits as “election interference.” They argue that the 14th Amendment’s insurrection clause was never intended to apply to the presidency and that Trump was merely exercising his First Amendment rights. They contend that he did not engage in an insurrection as defined by the Constitution.

What are the possible outcomes of these cases?

The possible outcomes range from lower courts either allowing Trump to remain on the ballot or removing him. Regardless of these initial rulings, appeals are anticipated, potentially leading to a landmark decision by the U.S. Supreme Court on the application of the 14th Amendment’s insurrection clause in the context of presidential eligibility.

Are there any precedents related to the use of the 14th Amendment’s insurrection clause?

Legal precedents on the use of the insurrection clause are scant. The clause has been used sparingly since the Civil War era and was mainly applied immediately after the Civil War. Its application in modern times is extremely limited, making these cases significant for setting new legal benchmarks.

What are the potential implications of these cases for American electoral politics?

If these cases proceed to the U.S. Supreme Court and result in a ruling that the 14th Amendment’s insurrection clause can be applied to disqualify a candidate from presidential eligibility, it would set a significant precedent that could impact future elections and the broader landscape of American electoral politics.

More about Insurrection Clause and Presidential Eligibility

  • 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution
  • The Insurrection Clause Explained
  • Previous Cases Challenging Presidential Eligibility
  • Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW)
  • Free Speech For People Organization
  • U.S. Supreme Court Decisions on Electoral Matters
  • Legal Precedents on the Use of 14th Amendment’s Insurrection Clause
  • Colorado and Minnesota Electoral Laws
  • Historical Context of the 14th Amendment’s Insurrection Clause
  • The Amnesty Act of 1872

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Laura Kim October 30, 2023 - 9:56 am

I don’t know much about law but this is fascinating. The 14th amendment’s been around for ages but its never been used like this before. what a time to be alive!

Emily Davis October 30, 2023 - 11:10 am

I’ve been following this closely and it’s like a legal thriller! Honestly, can’t predict how this is gonna end, but it’s edge-of-the-seat stuff for sure.

Daniel Gonzalez October 30, 2023 - 12:44 pm

The insurrection clause is a relic from another time. Who would’ve thought it would become a hot topic in modern politics? Life’s full of surprises.

Mike O'Conner October 30, 2023 - 4:56 pm

im not a legal expert or anything but doesn’t the constitution say innocent until proven guilty? Seems like a slippery slope to me.

John Smith October 31, 2023 - 1:25 am

Wow, this is seriously big news. Never thought I’d see the day when a former President could potentially be barred from running again. What’s the world coming to?

Timothy Brown October 31, 2023 - 2:33 am

Seems like a hail mary attempt to me. But then again, stranger things have happened. Would be crazy if it actually works and changes the election landscape forever.

Sarah Williams October 31, 2023 - 3:49 am

This is so complicated. Had to read it twice to get all the points. Definitely not for the faint of heart but super important. If this goes to the Supreme Court, it could be a game changer.


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