Will the 14th Amendment bar Trump from the Arizona ballot in 2024?

By: - September 8, 2023 8:45 am

Photo by Gage Skidmore (modified) | Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

Lawsuits have been filed in three states so far to attempt to keep former President Donald Trump off the ballot in the 2024 presidential election, but at this point, it’s unclear if a suit filed in Arizona will follow. 

The suits, including one filed in neighboring Colorado earlier this week, argue that a provision of the 14th Amendment that bans candidates who have engaged in insurrection prohibits Trump from appearing on the ballot. 

The amendment, adopted following the Civil War, was intended to ban Confederate leaders from being elected to positions of power.  


Secretary of State Adrian Fontes, a Democrat, told KTAR last week that the law was conflicting on this issue. The Arizona Supreme Court decided last year that the constitutional provision didn’t matter because there is no corresponding federal statute to enforce it. But Fontes noted that the Constitution’s supremacy clause says that constitutional provisions outweigh any decisions made at the state level. 

Fontes told the radio station that he was consulting with staff, as well as other legal experts, to decide how to determine whether Trump is eligible for presidential candidacy under the provisions of the 14th Amendment. 

As of Thursday, the Secretary of State’s Office was still looking into the issue, Communications Director Paul Smith-Leonard told the Mirror. 

Fontes was unavailable for an interview for this story. 

Fontes told KTAR that he was sure that his office would be sued whether he decides to allow Trump on the ballot or attempts to ban him from it. But, he added, he believes it’s vital that some sort of decision is made quickly, since he has to certify candidates for the presidential primary election by Dec. 14. 

“Somebody needs to throw a punch to get this thing started so we can get the courts to act,” Fontes said. 

He said he believes the U.S. Supreme Court will likely have the final say in the matter. 

So far, suits have been filed in Michigan and Florida, in addition to Colorado.  

The Colorado suit was filed by the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington on behalf of six Colorado voters. 

“Donald Trump tried to overthrow the results of the 2020 presidential election,” CREW wrote in the suit. “His efforts culminated on January 6, 2021, when he incited, exacerbated, and otherwise engaged in a violent insurrection at the United States Capitol by a mob who believed they were following his orders, and refused to protect the Capitol or call off the mob for nearly three hours as the attack unfolded.”

CREW has promised that, although its Colorado suit is its first challenging Trump’s eligibility for the ballot, it won’t be the last. 

Donald Sherman, a spokesman for CREW, would not say whether a suit in Arizona is a possibility. 

“Our goal is to win, right?” Sherman told the Mirror. “And we’re making assessments, state-by-state, whether particular states give us an opportunity to have a fair hearing for these issues.”

Sherman said he didn’t know when CREW would file its next suit in the matter. 

Arizona caselaw 

In May 2022, the Arizona Supreme Court rejected an attempt to disqualify Republican Congressmen Andy Biggs and Paul Gosar and then-Secretary of State hopeful Mark Finchem from the 2022 ballot. Critics filed a lawsuit asserting the 14th Amendment, and said the alleged involvement of the three Republicans in the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol barred them from being considered candidates for office. 

The court ruled both that a lack of federal statute to enforce the insurrection provision of the amendment means there’s no way to enforce it and that private citizens do not have the right to challenge a person’s candidacy under the provision. Instead, the high court said that only U.S. Congress could do so. 

Free Speech For People, which filed the 2022 lawsuits, said the Supreme Court ruling “gives a pass to political violence as a tool for disrupting and overturning free and fair elections.”

A lower Arizona court noted in its April 2022 decision that Biggs, Finchem and Gosar had not been “charged with or convicted of any state or federal crime that relates to insurrection or rebellion.”


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Caitlin Sievers
Caitlin Sievers

Caitlin joined the Arizona Mirror in 2022 with almost 10 years of experience as a reporter and editor, holding local government leaders accountable from newsrooms across the West and Midwest. She's won statewide awards in Nebraska, Indiana and Wisconsin for reporting, photography and commentary.