(The Center Square) — The candidacy of former President Donald Trump is under scrutiny in more than a handful of states; the question of whether Trump will be on the primary ballot for Virginia, at least, appears to have been resolved.
Just weeks before early primary voting starts in the commonwealth, a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit that sought to remove Trump from Virginia ballots, finding the plaintiffs’ case unconvincing.
“Although this increasingly litigated legal question of whether former President Trump may be disqualified from running or serving in public office raises issues of the utmost importance in our democratic system of self-governance, the Court cannot reach the merits of plaintiff’s claims because it lacks subject-matter jurisdiction,” ruled U.S. District Judge Leonie M. Brinkema in her opinion.
The Supreme Court of Colorado and Maine’s secretary of state decidedly asserted — that Trump’s involvement on Jan. 6 qualifies as insurrection under Section 3 of the Constitution’s Fourteenth Amendment and nullifies his right to hold presidential office — was at the case’s core.
The plaintiffs — who litigated the case themselves, without legal counsel — also cited discrimination as cause for Trump’s removal, arguing that Trump’s presence on the state’s 2024 ballots “has discriminatory purpose or effect that unlawfully deprives Petitioners African American citizens right to participate equally in elections.”
The judge ruled that the plaintiffs had no legal standing on either complaint.
“Federal courts across the country have consistently held that individual citizens do not have… standing to challenge whether another citizen is qualified to hold public office,” Brinkema wrote.
As for the complaint of discrimination, the plaintiffs asserted that “they are members of a minority group and their right to vote has been abridged … due to Trump’s filing a statement of candidacy to participate in the 2024 Presidential Primary,” without providing evidence as to how that has occurred, according to the judge.
Legal questions swirl around the proper applications of Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment and who can enforce it. It has never been used to remove a presidential candidate from a ballot; the interpretation and application will likely ultimately be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.