Nine California lawmakers sent a letter to state Attorney General (AG) Rob Bonta in mid-September seeking to disqualify and remove former President Donald Trump from the state’s primary ballot via the 14th Amendment.
The lawmakers wrote Trump is ineligible for a presidential run, arguing he incited an insurrection when the Jan. 6 Capitol riot occurred, Politico reported Monday. Section 3 of the 14th Amendment prohibits anyone who has previously held office and who engaged in an “insurrection or rebellion against” the United States from holding any governmental office in the future unless Congress removes the penalty against them via a majority vote in each House.
“We all watched in horror Mr. Trump’s insurrection against the United States when he ordered a mob of his supporters to the United States Capitol on January 6, 2021 to intimidate Vice President Pence and the United States Congress,” the letter reads, according to Politico. Democratic state Assemblymember Evan Low spearheaded the letter, which requests “immediate intervention” from Bonta.
The AG could potentially use his position as the top law enforcement officer in the state to force a ruling on the issue, according to Politico. Bonta’s office told the outlet it is reviewing the letter, adding, “There is no denying that Donald Trump has engaged in behavior that is unacceptable and unbecoming of any leader — let alone a President of the United States.” (RELATED: New Hampshire Will Not Block Trump From Ballot Over 14th Amendment)
Bonta is considering running for governor of California after current state Gov. Gavin Newsom’s term expires in 2026. Heading a move to disqualify Trump from the ballot could raise support for Bonta in the Democratic state, according to Politico.
Trump spokesperson Steven Cheung previously commented that such efforts to disqualify the former president on the 14th Amendment are groundless. “There is no legal basis for this effort except in the minds of those who are pushing it,” Cheung said via text to Politico in August, the outlet reported at the time.
Legal scholars have questioned using the 14th Amendment to disqualify Trump. “We should be wary of too loose an interpretation of Section 3,” Stanford Law School professor Michael McConnell wrote in mid-August, according to Reason. “We must not forget that we are talking about empowering partisan politicians such as state Secretaries of State to disqualify their political opponents from the ballot, depriving voters of the ability to elect candidates of their choice.”
“It is frightening that this lawfare has become mainstream,” wrote Abe Hamadeh, the Trump-endorsed 2022 Republican candidate for Arizona’s attorney general office. “I have family from Venezuela and Syria, I know a thing or two about what one party rule looks like.”
It is frightening that this lawfare has become mainstream. I have family from Venezuela and Syria, I know a thing or two about what one party rule looks like.https://t.co/8vrqPR0vq5
— Abe Hamadeh (@AbrahamHamadeh) September 18, 2023
Democratic state Sen. Josh Becker and Assemblymembers Alex Lee, Stephanie Nguyen, Kevin McCarty, Corey Jackson, Mike Gipson, Mike Fong and Phil Ting also signed the letter, Politico reported.