Attorney Shannon Liss-Riordan and Free Speech For People filed a 90-page objection to the Massachusetts Ballot Law Commission requesting the removal of former President Donald Trump from the Republican presidential primary ballot in Massachusetts. Multiple states have filed similar challenges following Colorado's Supreme Court ruling barring Trump from the state's primary ballot.
They cite Section Three of the 14th Amendment, which was written after the Civil War to keep former Confederates from public office. It bars those who had "previously taken an oath" to the Constitution and then "engaged in insurrection or rebellion" against it.
In this case, the objection argues Trump shouldn't appear on the primary ballot because of his involvement in the U.S. Capitol attack on Jan. 6.
Legal Director for Free Speech For People Ron Fein clarified in an interview with GBH's Boston Public Radio that the amendment "doesn't say anything about needing a prior criminal conviction." It would bar Trump from running for office, but he would still be a "free man" in the eyes of the law.
As for the ruling, the Massachusetts Ballot Law Commission will make a decision at the end of the month.
"The Ballot Commission is not able to hear the challenge, i.e., start their own hearing before Jan. 22, yet they must decide by 5 p.m. Jan. 29, so that's set forth in Massachusetts statute," Liss-Riordan, who ran against Senator Ed Markey in 2020, told Boston Public Radio.
Fein explained that it's unclear whether the U.S. Supreme Court's decision on Friday to review Colorado's ballot ruling will have an impact on their push in Massachusetts.
"It's possible that the Supreme Court will decide all of the issues in a way that resolves this case," he said. "But it's also possible that they'll focus on some oddity that happened in Colorado that doesn't really pertain to the big issues."
However, Liss-Riordan explained that the "entire record from Colorado, the transcripts of everything," will be used in the Massachusetts hearing.
But that will take place before the U.S. Supreme Court decision, which will begin hearing arguments on Feb. 8 to reach a decision before Super Tuesday on March 5. That period of time is typically sectioned off for a "monthlong winter break for the justices," demonstrating the urgency of this objection, according to the Associated Press.
However, a decision could be reached much before Super Tuesday. Fein gave the example of Bush v. Gore in 2000, which rendered a decision just one day after the arguments were heard.
Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin told reporters on Jan. 2 that his office aims to defend Trump's place on the ballot, saying that the government shouldn't "deprive voters of the right to cast a ballot" and that "the best way to defend democracy is to participate in democracy."
Liss-Riordan disagreed with the sentiment.
"What we're doing here, this is not political. This is legal. We are trying to enforce our laws. The Constitution is the highest law of our land," she said.