Political Speech

Massachusetts Voters Become Latest To Try and Keep Trump off Ballot Over Jan. 6 Attack

Former U.S. President Donald Trump campaigns in Derry, New Hampshire
Republican presidential candidate and former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in Derry, New Hampshire, Oct. 23, 2023. (Reuters/Amanda Sabga)

By The Associated Press

BOSTON (AP) — Five Republican and Democratic voters in Massachusetts have become the latest to challenge former President Donald Trump’s eligibility to appear on the Republican primary election ballot, claiming he is ineligible to hold office because he encouraged and did little to stop the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.

The challenge was filed late Thursday to Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin’s office ahead of the March 5 presidential primary.

The State Ballot Commission must rule on the challenge by Jan. 29. It came a day before the Supreme Court said Friday it will decide whether Trump can be kept off the ballot. The court agreed to take up Trump’s appeal of a case from Colorado stemming from his role in the events that culminated in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.

The Massachusetts challenge, similar to those filed in more than a dozen other states, relies on the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, which prohibits anyone from holding office who previously has taken an oath to defend the Constitution and then later “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” against the country or given “aid or comfort” to its enemies.

In its 91-page objection, the voters made the case that Trump should be disqualified from the presidency because he urged his supporters to march on the Capitol Jan. 6 to intimidate Congress and former Vice President Mike Pence. It also says he “reveled in, and deliberately refused to stop, the insurrection” and cites Trump’s efforts to overturn the election illegally.

“Donald Trump violated his oath of office and incited a violent insurrection that attacked the U.S. Capitol, threatened the assassination of the Vice President and congressional leaders, and disrupted the peaceful transfer of power for the first time in our nation’s history,” wrote Ron Fein, legal director at Free Speech For People, which has spearheaded efforts to keep Trump off the ballot. “Our predecessors understood that oath-breaking insurrectionists will do it again, and worse, if allowed back into power, so they enacted the Insurrectionist Disqualification Clause to protect the republic from people like Trump.”

The Massachusetts Republican Party responded to the challenge on X, formerly known as Twitter, saying it opposed this effort to remove Trump by “administrative fiat.”

“We believe that disqualification of a presidential candidate through legal maneuverings sets a dangerous precedent for democracy,” the group wrote. “Democracy demands that voters be the ultimate arbiter of suitability for office.”

Officials in Colorado and Maine have already banned Trump’s name from primary election ballots.

Along with challenging the Colorado ruling, Trump has appealed a ruling by Maine’s secretary of state barring him from the state’s primary ballot over his role in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.