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Political Litigation

Alaska Lawsuits Seeks Removal of Trump from 2024 Ballot

— December 27, 2023

The Alaska Department of Law Information says it is unclear whether the plaintiff, a Republican candidate for the 2024 election, intends to pursue the lawsuit.

A Republican presidential candidate in Alaska has filed a lawsuit challenging former President Donald Trump’s eligibility to stand for re-election in 2024.

According to The Juneau Empire, the lawsuit was filed more than three months ago, in late September. Summonses have not yet been issued, but the case has attracted more attention in the aftermath of a recent Colorado ruling.

In that case, a Colorado state court determined that the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits Trump from seeking or hold federal office.

The Alaska complaint makes a similar argument, suggesting that Trump led an insurrection against the federal government when he encouraged his supporters to march on the Capitol and challenge the results of the 2020 presidential election.

“On January 6, 2021, after witnessing a large group of Trump supporters violently attacking the United States Capitol to prevent the lawful certification of the 2020 election results with the goal of unlawfully compelling Donald John Trump’s inauguration […] Donald John Trump stated on live television, ‘we love you, you’re very special’ to the insurrectionists,” the lawsuit alleges.

“Defendant Donald John Trump provided the insurrectionists with comfort in the form of words of sympathy,” it adds, making extensive reference to Trump’s actions and statements, both in prelude to the January 6th riots and in their aftermath.

People milling around in front of the Capitol building, some carrying signs.
January 6, 2021 storming of the United States Capitol. Photo by Tyler Merbler, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. CC BY 2.0

The lawsuit also observes that Trump has promised to pardon persons already convicted for crimes they committed inside the U.S. Capitol.

“If I run and if I win, we will treat those people from January 6th fairly,” Trump said. “We will treat them fairly. And if it requires pardons, we will give them pardons.”

The plaintiff, Republican presidential candidate John Anthony Castro, says that he is competing for many of the same votes as Trump—and that, if Trump is unlawfully allowed to run for office, Castro will suffer irreparable injuries in the form of competitive losses.

“Castro has spoken to thousands of voters who have expressed that they would vote for Castro only if Trump is not a presidential candidate as they maintain political loyalty to Trump,” the lawsuit states.

However, some Alaska politicians have questioned whether taking Trump’s name off the ballot would be politically expedient. Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski, for instance, said that any such decision would be “politically fraud with peril.”

“It is going to be dangerous if it is viewed by the people that the courts have denied them the opportunity to vote for somebody that they want to vote for,” said Murkowski, a Republican and—at least in her own party—an outspoken critic of the former president.

Murkowski said that, although “there are probably legitimate grounds for the Colorado decision,” prohibiting Trump from seeking office in the “very polarized, very contentious political environment” could pose unprecedented risks.

Alaska News Source notes that, even though Castro’s petition was filed in September, the state Department of Law Information insists that it has yet to even receive a copy—raising the possibility that Castro’s complaint is but a political stunt.

“We have not been served with this lawsuit, and we do not know whether the plaintiff wishes to pursue it,” Law Information Officer Sam Curtis said in a statement. “He has voluntarily dismissed many of his similar lawsuits in other states.”


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