Republican Senator Vows to Introduce Bill Rapidly to Penalize States That Exclude Trump from Election Ballots

Senate Moves to Restrict Federal Funds to States Blocking Candidates’ Ballot Access

Senator Thom Tillis from North Carolina has announced that he will be introducing legislation to restrict federal funds to states that block candidates’ ballot access. This move comes after Maine’s secretary of state decided to block former President Donald Trump from the state’s ballot.

Tillis drafted the legislation, named the Constitutional Election Integrity Act, in response to a similar decision made by the Colorado Supreme Court to bar the former president from appearing on the Colorado ballot. In a tweet, Tillis referred to the decision from Secretary of State Shenna Bellows as an “egregious abuse of power” and stated that he will introduce the Constitutional Election Integrity Act as soon as Congress returns to session to ensure such partisan officials do not have the power to make such decisions.

The measure would amend the Help America Vote Act of 2002 to bar federal funds for election administration for states that use the U.S. Constitution’s 14th Amendment for “political purposes”. It would also clarify that only the U.S. Supreme Court has the “sole jurisdiction” to make decisions on 14th Amendment cases.

Tillis emphasized the importance of letting American voters decide who they elect as their president, rather than allowing partisan activists to manipulate the system. The Colorado case appears likely to reach the Supreme Court, as Republicans have filed an appeal with the high court against the Colorado judges’ decision.

The challenges against President Trump’s 2024 presidential campaign are based on Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment, which bans officials who have engaged in “insurrection” from holding public office. This section is being interpreted to argue that Trump’s involvement in the Capitol breach on Jan. 6, 2021, constituted an insurrection, despite the fact that he has not been charged with or convicted of insurrection.

Shenna Bellows, Maine’s top election official, granted a challenge from a group of former state lawmakers who argued that Trump was not qualified to serve as president again under Section 3. Bellows ordered Trump to be kept off the ballot for the Republican primary in Maine, but put her ruling on hold to allow him to appeal to a state court.

The court paused its ruling to allow Trump to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, which he indicated he would do. The Colorado Republican Party filed its own appeal to the Supreme Court on Dec. 27, allowing Trump to remain on the primary ballot. Trump and his allies have criticized disqualification cases as undemocratic and part of a conspiracy to keep him out of office.

Meanwhile, his attorneys have argued that presidents are not subject to disqualification and that he did not engage in insurrection. They maintain that he was exercising his First Amendment right to free speech on the day of the Jan. 6 protest. Democratic lawmakers and corporate news pundits have primarily pushed the insurrection claims.

It remains to be seen how the legislation introduced by Senator Tillis will play out, as the battle over President Trump’s eligibility to run for office continues to make its way through the courts. Regardless of the outcome, it is clear that the issue of ballot access and the constitutional rights of candidates will remain a topic of significant debate in the lead-up to the 2024 presidential election.

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