The Murphy administration is opposing a lawsuit filed by a New Jersey resident who wants to block ballot access for former President Donald Trump’s 2024 presidential candidacy based on Section Three of the 14th Amendment.
The section prohibits anyone who has previously taken an oath of office—such as elected officials and other public servants—from holding public office if they have “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” against the United States.
An independent New Jersey voter, John Bellocchio, filed a lawsuit early enough to give the court system time to process what can become a complex constitutional issue, but the Murphy administration is trying to shut down the case with patently absurd arguments.
Acting Director of the New Jersey Division of Elections Lauren Zyriek said, “No petition requesting Donald J. Trump and his electors for the office of president of the United States to be placed on the 2024 General Election ballot has been filed with the Department of State.”
In November 2022, Trump announced that he was a candidate, he filed a statement of organization with the Federal Election Commission, and he has been aggressively leading the polls in the race for the GOP 2024 presidential nomination. In fact, those surveys show not only that Trump is a prohibitive favorite for his party’s nod but also that he is likely to defeat President Joe Biden in the general election.
With each new indictment —he is facing four of them containing 91 criminal counts in total—Trump’s popularity seems to grow among voters.
There seems to be no stopping the former president without holding him to the standard embodied in the Constitution, which is intended to prevent traitors from holding power that would enable them to fulfill their treason or convert this democratic republic into a dictatorship, as Trump has essentially promised to do in public statements.
There is no apparent reason why Murphy, a Democrat, would oppose a citizen’s effort to enforce the Constitutional provision that would bar Trump from appearing on New Jersey’s ballot but that what state lawyers are doing.
“On November 17, 2023, or as soon thereafter as counsel may be heard, Matthew J. Platkin, Attorney General of New Jersey, by Adam W. Marshall, Deputy Attorney General, appearing on behalf of Defendants, Hon. Tahesha Way, Secretary of State of New Jersey, and Donna Barber, erroneously pled as Director, Division of Elections, New Jersey Department of State, will apply to the Superior Court, Law Division, Mercer County, for an Order dismissing Plaintiff’s complaint with prejudice,” said a brief filed in opposition to the citizen’s lawsuit.
The position argued by Murphy administration lawyers contradicts the opinion of a Colorado judge who rejected three attempts by Trump and the Colorado GOP to shut down a lawsuit seeking to block the former president from the 2024 presidential ballot there based on the 14th Amendment’s “insurrectionist ban.”
A watchdog group called Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington filed the Colorado case on behalf of six Republican and unaffiliated voters.
The flurry of rulings last from Colorado District Judge Sarah Wallace is a blow to Trump, who faces candidacy challenges in multiple states stemming from his role in the January 6, 2021, insurrection. He still has a pending motion to throw out the Colorado lawsuit, but the case now appears on track for an unprecedented trial this month.
Section 3 of the 14th Amendment was added to the Constitution after the Civil War to keep those who tried to overthrow the government out of government.
It states that US officials who take an oath to uphold the Constitution are disqualified from future office if they “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” against the nation, or have “given aid or comfort” to insurrectionists.
Citing the 14th Amendment prohibition last year, a New Mexico judge ordered Otero County Commissioner Couy Griffin stripped of his elected post because of his participation in the assault on the US Capitol on Jan. 6 following the 2020 election.
Judge Francis Mathew of the 1st Judicial District Court in Santa Fe also ordered Cuoy, founder of Cowboys for Trump, permanently banned from seeking or holding any elective office.
Two of Trump’s criminal indictments are directly related to the role he played in the January 6 insurrection and a broader conspiracy to defraud the voters by stealing the election after the Republican was soundly defeated by President Joe Biden.
Bellocchio, a career academic who now runs a business matching service dogs with disabled people, has filed numerous court cases challenging laws that violate constitutional rights and holding clergy accountable for sexual abuse and coverups.
The civil rights litigant says he is befuddled about why Murphy, the titular head of the Democratic Party in New Jersey and national chairman of the Democratic Governors Association, is working to defend Republican Donald Trump.