Ashcroft leads coalition of states challenging removal of presidential candidates from ballots

States file brief with United States Supreme Court
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Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft filed with the United States Supreme Court an amicus brief in the case Donald J. Trump v. Norma Anderson. The brief does not endorse either party but rather qualifies a state’s ability to remove individuals from the ballot.

The language contained in the brief read, “Section 3 of the 14th amendment does not empower state officials such as secretaries of state to disqualify presidential candidates from a state’s presidential primary ballot.” It further stated, “While other parts of the Constitution impose affirmative obligations on the States, those provisions are rote and divorced from the messy—and inherently political— question whether the insurrection clause should bar a candidate from office.”

Ashcroft leads a multi-state coalition in this effort. Ten states have joined with Ashcroft supporting the brief including Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, Tennessee, and West Virginia.  

“I appreciate the tenacity of so many other secretaries who also believe in good government; who believe in letting the people decide who should be on the ballot,” Ashcroft said.  “When one person has the authority to arbitrarily remove a candidate from the list – our republic is in trouble. Having such autonomy would set a dangerous precedent for which a deeply divided nation may never recover.”

Responding from Alabama, Secretary of State Wes Allen said, “Both the United States Constitution and the Supreme Court of Alabama indicate that to remove a Presidential candidate is not within the authority of my office. My role in this matter is clearly defined and I believe it is important for the United States Supreme Court to be as aware of that as I am.”

“The Presidency is the only office that reaches all 50 states. It is highly impractical to have each of the Secretaries of State make independent judgments that will likely only further divide our country. We look forward to guidance from the Court on how to proceed,” Idaho Secretary of State Phil McGrane said.

Indiana Secretary of State Diego Morales said, “I am proud to support and sign this amicus brief.  I, along with my fellow Secretaries, know we should not decide whether a presidential candidate should be on the ballot. That is not the job of a Secretary of State. It is our job to run safe and secure elections.  It is the voters’ job to elect candidates.”

“As I am receiving emails asking me to remove different presidential candidates, it has become imperative for the United States Supreme Court to settle this issue,” said Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett. “Voters, not secretaries of state, should decide the upcoming presidential election. The actions of two other states serve only to cast a cloud over the 2024 elections.”

Ashcroft, a licensed attorney in Missouri, will be attending oral arguments at the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., on February 8. “This has the potential to tear our nation apart if left unchecked,” Secretary Ashcroft added.

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