By Corinne Murdock |
Congressmen Andy Biggs (R-AZ-05) and Paul Gosar (R-AZ-04) and State Representative Mark Finchem (R-Oro Valley) will not be disqualified from the upcoming midterm elections for organizing the January 6 protest, a judge ruled on Friday.
The question before the court was whether the three candidates violated Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment, also known as the “Disqualification Clause.” Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Christopher Coury dismissed the case, ruling that the plaintiffs had no right of action to determine such a violation under the Constitution or supporting law.
Coury explained that the lawsuit’s argument for exercising the 14th Amendment contradicted legal precedent: the 1869 ruling for In Re Griffin, for example. Coury wrote that precedent, coupled with context of the amendment within the article, empowered Congress to exercise the 14th Amendment — not individual states or the people.
“[T]he Constitution provides legislation enacted by Congress is required to enforce the disqualification pursuant to the Disqualification Clause. Aside from criminal statutes dealing with insurrection and rebellion which Congress has enacted (lawsuits which require the government, not private citizens, to initiate), Congress has not passed legislation that is presently in effect which enforces the Disqualification Clause against the Candidates,” wrote Coury. “The text of the Constitution is mandatory. It sets forth the single arbiter of the qualifications of members of Congress; that single arbiter is Congress. It would contradict the plain language of the United States Constitution for this Court to conduct any trial over the qualifications of a member of Congress.”
The judge also rejected the argument that Arizona law enabled a private right of action to enforce the Disqualification Clause where the Constitution and federal law didn’t. Coury distinguished the term “prescribed” from “proscribed,” ruling that the Arizona law in question encompassed requirements for holding office, not disqualifications. Coury added that his interpretation was consistent with state and federal precedent.
Coury also noted that none of the three men were charged with or convicted of insurrection or rebellion. He refused to rule on the merits of the allegations of insurrection made against Gosar, Biggs, and Finchem.
The lawsuit was filed by Free Speech For People, a Democrat-backed, progressive nonprofit. The organization was ruled against last month as well in a similar lawsuit against Congressman Madison Cawthorn (R-NC-11). Another one of their similar lawsuits against Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA-14) had a hearing on Friday.