The lawsuits are part of a growing legal effort to use the Fourteenth Amendment to disqualify candidates because of their support of the January 6 attack, claiming they are “insurrectionists” and thus unable to hold public office. The amendment was adopted during Reconstruction after the Civil War and was intended to bar Confederate leaders from being elected to positions of power.
Biggs and Gosar are seeking re-election, while Finchem is running for secretary of state.
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Free Speech For People, the group behind the suits, has made a similar challenge in the past: It sought to have North Carolina U.S. Rep. Madison Cawthorn barred from that state’s ballot on the grounds that he is disqualified by the Fourteenth Amendment. But the attempt failed when a federal judge appointed by former President Donald Trump ruled that the Amnesty Act of 1872 gave amnesty to all future insurrectionists.
Ron Fein, legal director for Free Speech For People, told the Arizona Mirror that the same strategy is unlikely to work for Biggs, Gosar and Finchem.
“That ruling hasn’t been defended by anyone,” Fein said of the ruling in Cawthorn’s case. “The facts are very strong in these cases that Gosar, Biggs and Finchem were heavily involved in not only the effort to introduce fake slates of electors, but also involved in the violent extremist groups that gathered at the Capitol.”
The candidacy challenges will move swiftly through Arizona courts, as candidate challenges are heard on an expedited basis. If they are appealed, they advance directly to Arizona’s Supreme Court.
“This is a frivolous suit. It’s been dismissed everywhere they tried it because it is factually and legally baseless,” Gosar campaign consultant Rory McShane said in a statement to the Mirror. “The lawyers behind it should be disbarred for abusing the courts.”
Biggs and Finchem did not respond to a request for comment.
Biggs, Gosar and Finchem have all historically also been reluctant to speak and release information about their possible involvement and whereabouts on Jan. 6. Finchem has blocked the release of text messages related to the day and both Biggs and Gosar have been opposed to the creation of the Jan. 6 commission which has sought their phone records as well.
“Now perhaps for the first time they will be forced to answer for their involvement in a court of law,” Fein said, adding that they have already requested discovery related to the suit.
Gosar also made headlines for a post he made on Parler the day of the riots on the social media site Parler saying that “Americans are upset” alongside a photo of protesters scaling the walls of the Capitol.
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