Former president Donald Trump is facing a legal challenge to his 2024 bid for the presidency from a fellow Republican.
John Anthony Castro, an attorney from Texas and long-shot candidate for president in 2024, filed the lawsuit in federal court on Friday arguing that Trump was constitutionally ineligible to hold office under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment.
Known as the “Disqualification Clause,” the section prohibits anyone who engaged in “insurrection or rebellion” against the United States from holding “any office, civil or military, under the United States.” Castro is arguing that Trump’s involvement in the January 6th insurrection should disqualify him from holding public office again.
“The framers of Section 3 of the 14th Amendment intended the constitutional provision to be both self-executing and to provide a cause of action,” Castro, who’s representing himself, wrote in the complaint. “More specifically, the Union sought to punish the insurrectionary Confederacy by making their ability to hold public office unconstitutional.”
The Disqualification Clause mostly sat dormant since 1869 until last fall, when a New Mexico judge ousted Cowboys for Trump founder Couy Griffin from his position on the Otero County Commission for breaching the Capitol complex on Jan. 6.
Several advocacy groups, including Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), have vowed to pursue similar legal action against Trump during his 2024 run.
“The evidence that Trump engaged in insurrection is overwhelming,” CREW President Noah Bookbinder wrote in a letter to the former president on Nov. 3, before he declared his candidacy. “We are ready, willing and able to take action to make sure the Constitution is upheld and Trump is prevented from holding office.”
Castro describes himself as a “fiscal conservative” on his website, and appears to be running a more traditional, libertarian-minded Republican campaign, focused on reducing the federal budget, cutting taxes for retirees and “single private payer” health care.
He told Bloomberg that while he’s aware of the advocacy groups’ interest in disqualifying Trump, he also understands that their lawsuits wouldn’t roll in until states started accepting more candidate filings later this year. “I don’t feel comfortable waiting that long,” he said.
Ironically, his case was assigned to be tried before the U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon, a Trump nominee who presided over the former president’s attempts to shut down the Justice Department investigation into classified documents that he took to his Mar-a-Lago estate. Castro told Bloomberg that he’s looking to disqualify Cannon from handling the case.
Read the full complaint below: