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New twist in Trump ballot blocking movement

Former President of the United States Donald Trump at the "Rally to Protect Our Elections" hosted by Turning Point Action at Arizona Federal Theatre in Phoenix, Ariz., July 24, 2022. (Gage Skidmore/Flickr)
December 11, 2023

Democrats pushing for former President Donald Trump’s name to be prevented from appearing on 2024 election ballots continue to double down on their efforts, appealing to old cases in a new twist in their attempt to disqualify Trump over claims that he engaged in insurrection.

According to Newsweek, the latest push to prevent the former president from appearing on the election ballot is pointing to a ruling from 1968, which prohibited former Black Panther leader Eldridge Cleaver from appearing on the ballot in California since he did not mean the 35-year-old minimum age requirement for presidential candidates.

Newsweek reported that the Colorado Supreme Court is considering the review of a case by a lower court that ruled Trump had been involved in an insurrection against the United States as a result of the Capitol protest on January 6, 2021. The lower court ruled that Trump’s name could remain on the 2024 election ballot since the ban on insurrectionists holding political office in the United States did not provide a clear indication regarding its application to the office of the presidency.

According to Newsweek, Derek T. Muller, a University of Notre Dame law professor, has filed a briefing regarding the Colorado Supreme Court case. Muller claims that there have been multiple examples of presidential candidates who have been prevented from appearing on the ballot as a result of ineligibility under the U.S. Constitution.

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In Muller’s briefing, which was obtained by Newsweek, he cited the 1968 case of Cleaver as a primary example of a candidate being excluded from the ballot.

“Cleaver was the 33-year-old nominee of the Peace and Freedom Party. He challenged the exclusion in state court, which rejected his challenge,” Muller wrote. “Cleaver petitioned for certiorari to the United States Supreme Court. Without comment, the Court rejected the petition.”

Muller claimed that the Cleaver example “demonstrates the fact that a state did exclude a candidate from the ballot for failure to meet the qualifications for office.” He added, “And intriguingly, California excluded Cleaver even though Cleaver would become eligible during the four-year [presidential] term of office.”

Muller told Newsweek that his briefing was filed as a legal view of the current case and was not filed either for or against Trump. However, he claimed that the Cleaver case could present a difficulty for Trump.

“[Trump] has argued that states have no power to judge the qualifications of candidates or that it is a political question. The historical record, however, suggests that in at least some cases, states have excluded candidates,” Muller said.

The Colorado Supreme Court case comes as both Trump and his Democratic opponents have appealed the lower court’s ruling. The Colorado Supreme Court heard oral arguments regarding the case on December 6.

While Muller told Newsweek that the Colorado Supreme Court case could rule against Trump’s name appearing on the ballot, it is unlikely that Trump’s opponents will be successful.

“There are a number of things that the Colorado Supreme Court must find to exclude him from the ballot, but any one thing in Trump’s favor can keep him on,” Muller stated.