COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina is the latest target in a longshot Republican presidential candidate’s nationwide effort to boot Donald Trump from 2024 ballots, citing the former president’s alleged role the Jan. 6, 2021, U.S. Capitol insurrection.
Texan John Anthony Castro, who plans to run as a write-in presidential candidate, filed a lawsuit against Trump and S.C. State Election Commission Director Howard Knapp in federal court, seeking to keep Trump off the Palmetto State ballot. Castro has filed similar suits in a number of states, including Oklahoma, Arizona, New Mexico and others.
Castro’s suit relies on the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, ratified in the wake of the Civil War, which states, “No person ... or elector of President and Vice-President ... shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may, by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.”
In his South Carolina suit, Castro claims Trump provided “aid or comfort” to the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection, which led to more than 1,000 people being criminally charged. Castro claims he has implied cause of action for relief under the 14th Amendment, and his relief is removing Trump from the ballot.
Castro, in his lawsuit, says Trump “summoned his mob to our nation’s Capitol” and cites multiple examples he believes show Trump aided in insurrection, including Trump’s statement two weeks after the Capitol breach telling people involved in the event, “We love you. You’re very special.”
Trump has also said he would pardon the Capitol rioters and “treat (them) fairly” in 2022.
Besides Castro, groups from across the country, including Free Speech for People in Minnesota, have filed lawsuits using the 14th Amendment as justification for booting Trump from presidential ballots. According to CNN, the cases are seen as legal longshots. The ban has only been applied twice since the late 1800s for use against formerConfederates, and the Constitution doesn’t specifically say how the ban can be enforced, according to CNN.
“We’ll vigorously defend our Party’s ability to be represented on any ballot by any candidate that Republicans decide to nominate at any level,” South Carolina Republican Party Chairman Drew McKissick said in a statement to The State. “Period.”
It is not clear who will be defending Knapp in his role as state elections director, as there aren’t any attorneys listed on the lawsuit.
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