New Hampshire Secretary of State Weighs Using 14th Amendment to Keep Trump Off Ballot

US President Donald Trump holds a Make America Great Again campaign rally at Lancaster Air
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New Hampshire Secretary of State David Scanlan (R) is consulting with the state attorney general to determine if the U.S. Constitution’s Fourteenth Amendment empowers him to keep former President Donald Trump off the 2024 presidential ballot.

As secretary of state, Scanlan oversees New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation presidential primary that will take place at the beginning of 2024. However, Scanlan has caught wind of scholars’ recent arguments that the Fourteenth Amendment’s Disqualification Clause prohibits Trump from being on the presidential ballot.

As ABC7 Chicago detailed:

That disqualification argument boils down to Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution’s 14th Amendment, which says that a public official is not eligible to assume public office if they “engaged in insurrection or rebellion against” the United States, or had “given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof,” unless they are granted amnesty by a two-thirds vote of Congress.

Trump holds a 20-point lead over his Republican challengers in New Hampshire, the latest Echelon Insights survey found.

Still, a growing number of legal scholars on both the left and the right have proposed Trump be disqualified from the 2024 election based on the “insurrection” language cited in the Fourteenth Amendment.

As Breitbart News reported:

[Former Clinton administration labor secretary Robert] Reich was recently joined by legal scholars William Baude and Michael Stokes Paulsen, both Never Trump members of the otherwise conservative Federalist Society, who wrote in the University of Pennsylvania Law Review that Section 3 “disqualifies former President Donald Trump, and potentially many others, because of their participation in the attempted overthrow of the 2020 presidential election.”

This weekend, legal scholars J. Michael Luttig and Laurence H. Tribe joined the chorus, in The Atlantic. They cited the fact that Trump has been indicted at both the state and federal levels for various crimes, including a federal indictment in Washington, D.C., and a state indictment for Fulton County, Georgia, for his efforts to challenge the 2020 election results.

(Notably, Tribe called for Trump to be impeached on the day he took office, and floated various other theories that would allow for Trump to be impeached. Tribe also advised Democrats to use the unusual tactic of withholding articles of impeachment from the Senate once they had been passed by the House, during the first failed impeachment of President Trump in 2019-2020.)

“The disqualification clause operates independently of any such criminal proceedings and, indeed, also independently of impeachment proceedings and of congressional legislation,” Luttig and Tribe wrote. “The clause was designed to operate directly and immediately upon those who betray their oaths to the Constitution, whether by taking up arms to overturn our government or by waging war on our government by attempting to overturn a presidential election through a bloodless coup.”

New Hampshire attorney Bryant “Corky” Messner, whom Trump previously endorsed in New Hampshire’s 2020 U.S. Senate race, is apparently responsible for getting the idea on Scanlan’s radar. Messner recently announced plans to sue to ensure Scanlan enforces the Fourteenth Amendment against Trump.

“I really don’t view myself as turning on Trump, as odd as that sounds,” Messner told ABC News. “I love this country. I’ve served this country. I’ve taken an oath to this country. My sons are serving right now and I believe someone’s got to step up to defend the Constitution.”

“Someone needs to take some action legally so this thing can get in front of the Supreme Court sooner rather than later to interpret this section,” he added.

Scanlan’s office confirmed Messner and Scanlan met Friday to discuss Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment but announced the secretary of state will meet with the state attorney general before making any decisions.

“Secretary Scanlan will be conferring with the New Hampshire Attorney General and other legal counsel on this issue; however, he believes any action taken under this Constitutional provision will have to be based on Judicial guidance,” Scanlan’s communications director Anna Sventek told ABC News.

Scanlan said he views the January 6 Capitol riot as a “really unfortunate event in our history” but cautioned that he is not “really qualified to say whether that was an ‘insurrection’ or not.”

“I think that is for the courts to decide,” Scanlan added.

Jordan Dixon-Hamilton is a reporter for Breitbart News. Write to him at or follow him on Twitter.


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