In a stunning turn of events, former President Donald Trump’s name will be included on the California primary ballot despite recent rulings in other states declaring him ineligible to hold office. While the decision by Secretary of State Shirley Weber has sparked controversy, it raises important questions about the interpretation of the 14th Amendment’s insurrection clause and the role of the courts in determining eligibility for public office.
Late on Thursday, Secretary of State Shirley Weber released the list of certified candidates for the March 5 primary, which included Donald Trump’s name. This decision came on the same day that Maine’s Secretary of State, Shenna Bellows, declared Trump ineligible to appear on their state’s ballot. However, Weber did not provide a statement explaining her decision to keep Trump on the California ballot.
The inclusion of Donald Trump on the California ballot has ignited a debate about the authority of the courts in determining eligibility for public office. After the Colorado Supreme Court ruled Trump ineligible, California Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis called for his exclusion from the ballot. However, Secretary Weber responded with a letter suggesting that it should be up to the courts to decide. She emphasized that removing a candidate from the ballot under the 14th Amendment is a serious matter and requires careful consideration.
The controversy surrounding Trump’s eligibility centers around the 14th Amendment’s insurrection clause, which prohibits individuals who have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the government from holding office. Secretary Bellows of Maine cited Trump’s false narrative of election fraud and his alleged role in inciting the Capitol insurrection as grounds for declaring him ineligible. Bellows stated that Trump not only encouraged violence with incendiary rhetoric but also failed to take timely action to prevent it.
While the Colorado Supreme Court ruled Trump ineligible, state Republicans have appealed the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court. Unless the high court justices overturn the ruling or side with the state court, Trump’s name will remain on the ballot. It is worth noting that judges in other states, such as Minnesota and Michigan, have rejected efforts to exclude Trump from the ballot.
Governor Gavin Newsom of California expressed skepticism about legal attempts to block Trump’s inclusion on the ballot, stating that voters should decide the outcome at the polls. Newsom acknowledged that Trump posed a threat to democracy but emphasized the importance of electoral processes. On the other hand, Trump’s campaign spokesman, Steven Cheung, criticized Secretary Bellows as a partisan Democrat interfering in the election and accused her of attempting to disenfranchise American voters.
The decision to include Donald Trump on the California primary ballot has ignited a fierce debate about eligibility for public office and the interpretation of the 14th Amendment’s insurrection clause. As this contentious issue unfolds, it highlights the complex interplay between state and federal courts and raises important questions about the role of voters in determining the future of American democracy.