Trump Still On Ballot, After Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Justice Upholds State Ballot Law Commission Decision

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By Chris Lisinski
State House News Service

A judge on the state’s highest court denied a bid to disqualify former President Donald Trump from the Republican presidential primary ballot, writing Monday that the complaint essentially “come[s] too soon” in the election cycle.

Frank Gaziano, a member of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, upheld the decision of the State Ballot Law Commission, which last week dismissed a challenge alleging Trump is ineligible for office due to his role in the Januar. 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol that sought to overturn his electoral defeat.

The three-member commission concluded it does not have jurisdiction over the case brought by parties, including Free Speech for People and civil rights firm Lichten & Liss-Riordan. Gaziano agreed, writing that state law gives the panel authority over “any nominee for state, national or county office” or “certificates of nomination or nomination papers filed in any presidential or state primary.”

“Trump’s place on the ballot was not secured through the submission of nomination papers, nor, at this stage, is he the subject of any certificate of nomination or a nominee,” wrote Gaziano, who was appointed to the court in 2016 by then-Governor Charlie Baker. “… Because Trump’s appearance on the primary ballot is not pursuant to ‘nomination papers,’ this provision does not apply.”

“The petitioners’ objections have, in essence, come too soon,” Gaziano added. “If there is any question whether the commission has the authority or jurisdiction to consider the petitioners’ objections regarding Trump’s eligibility to appear on the general election ballot, that question will not become ripe until, and if, he is selected as his party’s nominee for President. That question is not currently before me.”

Gaziano pointed out that the question of whether Trump is eligible to serve as president under the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution could soon be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court, which is set to hear oral arguments Thursday, February 8 in a case concerning Colorado officials barring the former president from the ballot.

Free Speech for People, which is represented by former Democrat U.S. Senate and state attorney general candidate Shannon Liss-Riordan, said challengers plan to “immediately” appeal Gaziano’s ruling to the full Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court.


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