Rule of Law

RELEASE: Disappointing Decision Ignores the Role of Courts in 14.3 Accountability

WASHINGTON, DC – In response to today’s decision by the Michigan Court of Claims in LaBrant v. Benson, a case in which the Court considered whether Donald Trump should be allowed to appear as a candidate on the Michigan ballot due to his disqualification from office under Section Three of the Fourteenth Amendment, CAC Vice President Praveen Fernandes said:

The Court’s conclusion that the voter challenge turns on a nonjusticiable political question is profoundly disappointing.  The Court takes pains to state that “the judiciary does not avoid questions because they are nuanced, complex, or difficult,” but then appears to do exactly that.   Courts can adjudicate—and have adjudicated—disqualification based on Section Three of the Fourteenth Amendment.  More troublingly, the Court today cloaks its position in deference to Congress, stating that ballot disqualification “strips Congress of its ability to ‘by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such a disability.’”  But this is not true—Congress could have acted in the past, just as Congress can act tomorrow, to remove the disqualification.  Unlike its actions with the passage of the 1872 and 1898 Confederate Amnesty Acts, Congress has chosen not to insulate from accountability insurrectionist officers who took part in the actions of January 6, 2021.

CAC Appellate Counsel Smita Ghosh added:

The Framers of Section Three of the Fourteenth Amendment were clear about who could remove a disqualification—both chambers of Congress by a supermajority vote.  In contrast, these same Framers set no limit on who could impose disqualification, allowing for a variety of actors, including state and federal courts, to enforce the Amendment’s important protections.  In concluding otherwise, today’s decision is at odds with the text and history of the Fourteenth Amendment.



Case page in LaBrant v. Benson:


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