Multiple Lawsuits Seek To Block Trump From Pennsylvania’s Ballot

FILE - Former President Donald Trump visits Café du Monde in New Orleans, July 25, 2023. Trump is expected to command the national political spotlight on Saturday, Sept. 9, when he attends Iowa’s biggest annual college football game. Trump will be at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames on Saturday, where Iowa State University will host the University of Iowa. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File)

By Sean Kitchen

September 13, 2023

Former President Donald Trump is facing multiple lawsuits seeking to stop Trump from appearing on Pennsylvania’s 2024 primary ballot. The lawsuits are the latest in a string of suits using the 14th Amendment to disqualify the former president.

Multiple lawsuits seeking to keep former President Donald Trump off of Pennsylvania’s 2024 ballot have been filed in recent weeks.

The lawsuits are being filed by John A. Castro, an unknown Republican presidential candidate from Texas, and Gene Stilp, a Harrisburg-area gadfly, in Pennsylvania’s Commonwealth Court and the US Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania.

Both lawsuits are citing a Civil War era clause tucked away in Section 3 of the 14th Amendment to keep Trump off of the 2024 presidential ballot because of his involvement in trying to overturn the 2020 election and the attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. The constitution states that no person shall be elected to office if they have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the government they swore to protect.

Trump is facing a flurry of lawsuits using the 14th Amendment to disqualify him from appearing on ballots in states around the country. In the past week, voters in Colorado and Minnesota filed similar lawsuits.

PoliticsPA reported that Castro filed his lawsuit, which is an injunction asking Al Schmidt, the Secretary of the Commonwealth, to not accept or process any documents pertaining to Trump’s candidacy, in Commonwealth Court on Aug. 30.

Castro has filed similar suits throughout 2023. He filed a suit in January that was thrown out by Aileen Cannon, who is overseeing the documents case against Trump, and a similar suit was thrown out by the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) because he did not have standing in the case. He’s filed similar suits in Arizona and New Hampshire.

Last week, as reported by the Patriot News, Stilp filed his lawsuit in federal court seeking declaratory relief to whether or not Trump is allowed to be on the primary election ballot because of Trump’s actions leading up to and on Jan. 6, 2021.

Christopher Borick, a political science professor at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, explained how the 14th Amendment’s history is rooted in the post-Civil War era, and that the lawsuits are reasonable.

“It’s certainly reasonable to look at the language in the 14th Amendment and ask if it applies to individuals that were associated with January 6th and see if their actions can be defined as meeting the language in the 14th Amendment on this subject,” Borick said.

“And, of course, the most serious case would be that of the former president seeking office again in 2024. And so, it’s certainly a reasonable discussion.”

Borick cautioned that even though Trump has been charged with crimes relating to his actions on Jan 6th, the former president hasn’t been convicted of anything at this point.

He went on to say, “Like so many things with Trump, we’re in unprecedented space.”



  • Sean Kitchen

    Sean Kitchen is the Keystone’s political correspondent, based in Harrisburg. Sean is originally from Philadelphia and spent five years working as a writer and researcher for Pennsylvania Spotlight.

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