Ross: Georgia Secretary of State says he can’t take Trump off the ballot

Sep 7, 2023, 8:03 AM | Updated: Sep 8, 2023, 10:18 am

ATLANTA, GA - OCTOBER 25: Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger speaks to the media about e...

ATLANTA, GA - OCTOBER 25: Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger speaks to the media about early voting progress on October 25, 2022 in Atlanta, Georgia. Early voting is taking place across the U.S. ahead of the midterm elections on November 8. (Photo by Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images)

(Photo by Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images)

Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensburger put the kibosh on this idea of disqualifying Donald Trump under the 14th Amendment.

I realize that if you’re anti-Trump, this idea is very tempting, even obvious, because the 14th Amendment states that a public official is ineligible for public office if he has “engaged in insurrection or rebellion against” America.

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But there are two big problems with this idea. Number one, Jack Smith’s indictment does not charge Trump with organizing or even inciting the attack on the Capitol; and number two, the Constitution is unclear on how the 14th Amendment is to be enforced. There is an assumption it will enforce itself, as happens with the other constitutional qualifications of being 35 years old and born in the US.

Trump himself tried to kick Barack Obama off the ballot by challenging his birth certificate. Didn’t work.

And now you have Brad Raffensburger dismissing the disqualification idea, which is significant because he, of course, was at Ground Zero in Trump’s attempt to steal the election.

Here’s what he wrote: “For a secretary of state to remove a candidate would only reinforce the grievances of those who see the system as rigged and corrupt.”

“Invoking the 14th Amendment,” he said, “is merely the newest way of attempting to short-circuit the ballot box.”

To which I would add, there’s really no established way to enforce the 14th Amendment anyway. I talked about this last month with former State Attorney General Rob McKenna:

“That is a question that I think is going to have to be decided by the courts. Because the fact is this language in the Constitution has not been tested in court. It lay dormant for 150 years until January 6, 2021, and I think the courts are going to have to weigh in and then decide what constitutes insurrection or rebellion,” McKenna said. “What constitutes aid or comfort? I don’t think leaving these decisions to the Secretaries of State is a realistic option.”

So, what we need is a solid test case. How about this: How about if one of the Proud Boys announces his candidacy? Even better, a Proud Boy who attacked the Capitol and is under 35 years old and was born in a foreign country.

Would states just put him on the ballot and let the voters decide?

That’s what Raffensberger is saying.

And I agree with him, democracy requires trusting the voters unconditionally. It’s intended to prevent endless revolutions by forcing the government to bend to our collective will.

That means accepting that voters have the right to choose anyone they want, be they saints or sleazeballs, competent or corrupt, and then to take the possible consequences.

And history shows us that among those possible consequences is that the majority can vote to end the rule of the majority!

And if that worries you, well, think about that as you’re deciding whether to make use of your ballot or throw it away. Which, in the 2020 election, is exactly what 775,977 qualified Washington voters did.

Listen to Seattle’s Morning News with Dave Ross and Colleen O’Brien weekday mornings from 5 – 9 a.m. on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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Ross: Georgia Secretary of State says he can’t take Trump off the ballot