Here’s what happened…
The top election official in New Hampshire, Secretary of State Dave Scanlan, recently addressed concerns surrounding former President Donald Trump’s eligibility for the 2024 presidential ballot in the state’s primary, which is the first in the Republican nominating calendar.
According to Fox, Scanlan announced during a press conference held at the state house in Concord that the filing period for the 2024 presidential primary would commence on October 11. He clarified that, provided Trump complies with the necessary requirements, such as submitting a declaration of candidacy, paying the $1,000 filing fee, and signing it under the penalties of perjury, his name would appear on the primary ballot. He emphasized that this language is not subject to discretion.
Bryant “Corky” Messner, a prominent Republican and attorney, had expressed doubts about Trump’s eligibility and considered filing a lawsuit invoking Section 3 of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. This section disqualifies individuals who have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the United States or provided aid or comfort to its enemies from holding office again.
Separately, John Anthony Castro, a Texas-based attorney running for the GOP presidential nomination, filed a lawsuit in a New Hampshire court to prevent Trump from appearing on the primary ballot.
The idea of using the 14th Amendment to disqualify Trump from the ballot gained momentum with his recent indictments in federal court and Georgia for attempting to overturn the 2020 election results. Legal advocacy groups and scholars had raised the argument in various states, including New Hampshire.
However, Secretary Scanlan stressed that New Hampshire state statutes do not mention disqualification based on the 14th Amendment, and there is no provision allowing the Secretary of State to exercise discretion in qualification issues once a candidate swears, under the penalties of perjury, to meet the qualifications for the presidency.
Scanlan consulted with the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office, and the state attorney general, John Formella, confirmed that state law does not permit the Secretary of State to withhold a candidate’s name from the ballot on grounds of disqualification under Section Three of the 14th Amendment unless the candidate has been convicted.
Most secretaries of state have refrained from unilaterally striking presidential candidates from the ballot, indicating that such action may only be taken if compelled by the courts. The ultimate resolution of this issue is likely to require a ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court, which has not previously addressed Section 3 of the 14th Amendment.
New Hampshire GOP chair Chris Ager expressed satisfaction with Scanlan’s decision, believing it aligned with the established process and decision-making, thus allowing the state to move forward with the campaign without further concerns about the 14th Amendment’s application.