A South Florida attorney has filed a lawsuit against Donald Trump seeking to have the former president declared ineligible to run for another term as president.
The lawsuit, which implicates Trump in the January 6, 2021 insurrection, He wants the federal courts to implement The Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution, added after the Civil War, to prevent persons who had taken part in an insurrection against the United States from ever holding office again.
Lawrence Kaplan’s lawsuit asserts that this provision clearly applies to Trump:
“The efforts of President Trump in Washington, as well as in Georgia and possibly other states, as well as the subsequent attack on the U.S. Capitol… render him ineligible to serve in federal office again. Now given that the facts appear quite clear that Trump was involved To some extent in the insurrection of the 6th of January, the only remaining question is whether the American jurists who took an oath to respect the Constitution of the United States upon entering the bench would choose to follow the letter of the Constitution in this case.
Kaplan concluded, “The bottom line here is that President Trump engaged in an insurrection and also provided aid and comfort to other individuals who were engaging in such actions, in the plain sense of those terms” as provided by the Fourteenth Amendment. “Trump is no longer eligible to run for office.” President of the United States, or any other country in the Union.”
Kaplan did not come up with this theory on his own.
The theory has garnered a lot of attention in recent weeks after legal scholars — including one of the nation’s leading conservative legal thinkers and members of the conservative Federalist Assembly — said the Fourteenth Amendment undoubtedly applied to Trump, preventing him from serving another term as president.
Kaplan’s lawsuit, filed Thursday in the US District Court of South Florida, uses that theory to ask the court to declare Trump barred from running for president and bar him from participating in the 2024 Florida Republican primary.
Despite the legal grounds for this case, people who hate and fear Trump should not be too excited, nor should people who love him be too worried.
“Realistically, it’s not salutations to you, but just throwing the ball and hoping it lands in the right place,” said Charles Zelden, a history and legal studies professor who specializes in politics and voting at Nova Southeastern University. “It’s hopeful that we can simply solve the Trump problem. And I’m sorry, Trump is too big a problem to simply get rid of. He’s a huge challenge to the system.”
“It’s one of those ideas that only a law professor could love,” said Zelden.
Kaplan said he concluded he wasn’t outside the realm of possibility “this character gets re-elected” and decided that “someone’s gotta take the lead”.
Kaplan said he is not politically active.
“I am not at all active in partisan politics,” he said. “I am not a political animal.”
He has voted for presidential candidates from both parties over the years: Republicans Ronald Reagan and George Bush Sr., Democrats Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton (“You caught my nose”) and Joe Biden (“Because there was no other choice.”)
Kaplan said he would tell anyone trying to claim he was not a patriot that after law school he worked for the National Security Agency.
People who knowingly or unintentionally opposed Trump found themselves harassed by supporters of the former president. Recently, members of the Georgia grand jury that charged Trump with trying to overturn the 2020 election, was threatened.
Kaplan said he’s not worried about the backlash. “Never mind. I’ve had multiple brain surgeries and I’m not worried. I can survive it.”
“This will be my last lawsuit,” said Kaplan, 65, who grew up in Miami, lives in Boca Raton and practices law in Boynton Beach. He said he would focus on estate planning, taxation and business law. He also owns an address company.
Zelden said he sees the validity of the scholars’ argument. But it’s complicated. “On a practical level, how do you achieve this in real life?”
“The question here is how do you determine that what Trump did was rebellious? In some people’s minds it is and in some people’s minds it is not. And even if I get on the side of saying, “Yes, this is rebellion,” is the provision in the Fourteenth Amendment self-activating? Do you need laws that make it workable in practice or are they simply automatic? Zelden said. “These are difficult questions to answer because there are no clear answers.”
Kaplan’s complaint describes recent history, including elements of what happened on and around January 6, 2021.
And discusses Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendmentan ineligibility clause, which automatically bars from serving those who “have previously been sworn, as a member of Congress, as an employee of the United States, or as a member of any state legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any state,” shall, to uphold the Constitution of the United States, to engage in rebellion or rebellion against it, or to give aid or comfort to its enemies” unless the Congress restores their right of office by a two-thirds majority.
in Scientific paper Published online earlier this month and due for publication next year in the University of Pennsylvania Law Review, William Budd of the University of Chicago Law School and Michael Stokes-Poulsen of the University of St. Thomas Law School detailed their conclusion after a year of research. The Fourteenth Amendment disqualifies Trump.
Both are members of the Federal Assembly, the incubator of conservative, parochial legal thinking of government that became effectively a requirement for judicial nominations during the Trump presidency and in Florida under Gov. Ron DeSantis.
on August 19, J Michael LuttigW., a former Federal Appeals Court judge and prominent conservative thinker, W Lawrence tribeliberal professor emeritus of constitutional law at Harvard Law School, Books in the Atlantic The Fourteenth Amendment disqualifies Trump.
During Wednesday’s GOP presidential debate, former Arkansas governor Asa Hutchinson cited legal scholars’ argument that Trump is unqualified. “This is something that makes him ineligible under our rules and under our Constitution,” he said.
The outcome depends on what the trial judges decide – with more cases likely in various states – followed by the appeals courts and eventually the Supreme Court, if it gets that far in time for a vote in 2024.
Kaplan’s case has been assigned to US District Judge Robin L. rosenberg, Which sits in West Palm Beach. Rosenberg has been nominated as a judge by Obama. Any appeal would go to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, a court dominated by conservatives, some of whom could set their sights on Luttig’s analysis.
Kaplan said he expects his lawsuit to be opposed on multiple grounds, including whether he has legal standing to bring the case. He asserts in the complaint that he does so.
From a procedural standpoint, Zelden said, it might make more sense for someone challenging Trump’s ability to run to file suit against the secretary of state, who is in charge of elections in many states, for an order to stop Trump from voting. “Issuing Trump directly is unlikely to have the effect he (Kaplan) would like.”
The issue of Fourteenth Amendment eligibility, Zelden said, is similar to many things surrounding Trump. “It’s just more chaos associated with Trump, whether you love him or hate him, he makes the system of government messy, complex and difficult.”
Anthony Mann can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, on Twitter @browardpolitics, and on Post.news/@browardpolitics.