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.
A Democrat-backed nonprofit wants State Representative Mark Finchem (R-Oro Valley), Congressman Andy Biggs (R-AZ-05), and Congressman Paul Gosar (R-AZ-04) disqualified from the upcoming midterm election for organizing the January 6 protest.
Arizona State University (ASU) law professor and legal expert Ilan Wurman told “The Conservative Circus” that the lawsuit not only misinterprets constitutional law but represents the bad habit of both parties to weaponize the Constitution.
“Just after the Civil War, this clause of the Fourteenth Amendment was enacted to prevent individuals who had been office holders, federal and state office holders, who had taken an oath to uphold the Constitution, who then seceded from the Union, unconstitutionally seceded from the Union, and then took up arms against the government of the United States. By the way, that is an insurrection,” explained Wurman.
The nonprofit, Free Speech for People, invoked the Fourteenth Amendment to argue that Finchem, Biggs, and Gosar were responsible for the U.S. Capitol intrusion because they helped organize the preceding protest.
The lawsuit against Finchem, Biggs, and Gosar is part of a national campaign to “ban insurrectionists from the ballot” under Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment: the “14Point3 Campaign.” Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA-14) and Congressman Madison Cawthorn (R-NC-11) also face lawsuits under the campaign. Last month, a federal judge in North Carolina ruled in favor of Cawthorn.
Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment reads as follows:
“No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice-President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.”
The nonprofit behind the lawsuit, Free Speech for People, also filed another lawsuit last month against the Federal Election Commission (FEC) concerning the debunked Russiagate collusion.
On Friday, a group of Arizona legislators reached out to Governor Doug Ducey with an offer to work with him to address the “omnipresent border crisis.” In a letter to the governor, the legislators also inquire as to the level of funding provided to the Border Strike Force.
Led by Rep. Shawnna Bolick, the lawmakers advised the governor that they hope to work with him to “come up with a concrete plan to further allocate resources to complete portions of the Border wall and ensure Border Strike Force is fully funded.”
The lawmakers accuse the Biden Administration of not making “the public safety or health of Arizonans” a top priority, noting that it “took until today for Vice President Kamala Harris to see the invasion for herself in El Paso.”
“We applaud other governors answering your call for assistance to send some of their law enforcement as back up as the ongoing invasion continues along the southern Border,” write the lawmakers. “The problem is real. We wish you didn’t have to rely on other states to bail us out because the federal government has failed us, but illegal immigration affects every state.”
The lawmakers cite as a source of concern an incident that occurred earlier this year which was “highlighted in the local newspaper that the Department of Public Safety release two confessed human smuggler with just a traffic citation after stopping him along a valley freeway in April with a van full of illegal immigrants.”
“It was rather alarming to read that the illegal immigrants in the van were released into the Phoenix area even though it is a direct violation of state law to be in our state unlawfully. It is noted that the federal agents would not pick up this van full of illegal immigrants if they weren’t violent felons. If the Border Strike Force isn’t identifying traffickers along the southern Border and they are making their way into the Valley, is the Border Strike Force understaffed and underfunded?”
The lawmakers expressed a desire to “work together to further investigate why this human trafficker was let go.”
“We support trade relations with Mexico, but we do not want transnational crime rings bringing further ruin into our state. It is past time to plug the gaping holes on state land that buttress Mexico allowing traffickers to invade our state.”
The lawmakers argue that border security is a states’ rights issue.
Last week, Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced that Texas would build its border wall. Abbotts aid that the state will be soliciting donations from across the country to help fund the wall.
“When I do make the announcement later on this week, I will also be providing a link that you can click on and go to for everybody in the United States — really everybody in the entire world — who wants to help Texas build the border wall, there will be a place on there where they can contribute,” Abbott said on a podcast show called “Ruthless.”
As AZ Free News reported earlier this month, Ducey and Abbott urgently requested all U.S. governors to send available law enforcement resources to their states along the U.S.-Mexico border as illegal border crossings, apprehensions, and unaccompanied migrant children in federal custody increase.
The Customs and Border Protection apprehension numbers for May showed more than 180,000 illegal aliens were apprehended crossing the border over the course of the month, a 674% increase from the 23,237 illegal aliens apprehended at the border in May 2020.
In a joint letter from Ducey and Abbott, fellow governors were told: “In response to the ongoing surge of illegal border crossings, with the accompanying threats to private property and to the safety of our citizens, Governor Abbott has declared a disaster and Governor Ducey has declared an emergency.”
Bolick was joined in the letter by Reps. Becky Nutt, Tim Dunn, Walt Blackman, Brenda Barton, John Kavanaugh, Mark Finchem, Joseph Chaplik, Beverly Pingerelli, Leo Biasiucci, Judy Burgess, Frank Carroll, Quang Nguyen, John Fillmore, Jacqueline Parker, and Steve Kaiser.
Earlier today I wrote a letter to @dougducey addressing the #BorderCrisis & the need to work together to solve it. Many of my fellow legislators co-signed it. If the Fed’s aren’t going to finish building the wall, AZ should. ???? pic.twitter.com/DXbit71KP3
While some Arizona voters remain focused on last November’s election, dozens of candidates for state and federal offices in 2022 are already vying for voters’ attention and their dollars, even though early voting for primary contests won’t begin for 13 months.
The November 2022 General Election will bring major changes to Arizona’s executive branch, as Gov. Doug Ducey is termed out and Attorney General Mark Brnovich has announced his run for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Mark Kelly. There will also be a new Arizona Secretary of State as current officeholder Katie Hobbs is seeking the governorship.
Hobbs announced her candidacy earlier this month, but faces a tough Democratic primary race with Marco Lopez Jr., a former mayor of Nogales and prior Chief of Staff for U.S. Customs & Border Protection. They currently have two other primary challengers, Steven “Paco” Noon Jr. and Trista DiGenova-Chang, although State Rep. Aaron Lieberman is rumored to be considering tossing his hat in the ring.
On the Republican side, 10 candidates are currently vying to get past the Aug. 2 primary and onto the Nov. 8 General Election ballot. Among the first to announce their candidacy were Arizona Treasurer Kimberly Yee and Karrin Taylor Robson, who is the secretary of the Arizona Board of Regents.
Former Phoenix-area television news anchor Kari Lake has also announced a run for the Republican nomination, along with Ameer El Bey, Kelly Garett, David Hoffman, Michael Pavlock Jr., Julian Tatka, Paola “Z” Tulliani, and Wayne Warren.
Meanwhile, two Libertarians -Bill Moritzky and Steve Remus- have already filed a Statement of Interest for governor.
With Hobbs giving up her position as Secretary of State, the Arizona Republican Party is pushing hard to take back the office in 2022. Five candidates, including Sen. Michelle Ugenti-Rita and Rep. Mark Finchem, are expected to be on the primary ballot, along with Remo Paul, Mark Sarchet, and Wade Wilson.
In addition, Rep. Shawnna Bolick, also a Republican, is expected to announce her candidacy for Secretary of State at a June 21 “Campaign Kick-off” event.
Whichever Republican clears the primary will likely take on Democrat Adrian Fontes, the former Maricopa County Recorder. Fontes informally announced on social media last week his interest in running for Secretary of State.
One of the state’s most influential offices is up for grabs in 2022 now that Brnovich is running for Congress. One Democrat -Diego Rodriguez- has filed a Statement of Interest, as have two Republicans- Andrew Gould and Tiffany Shedd.
Gould recently stepped down from the Arizona Supreme Court to announce his candidacy.
The U.S. Senate seat currently held by Mark Kelly is expected to be one of the most contested federal races in 2022, although the Republican primary to determine who takes on Kelly will be just as intense.
In addition to Brnovich, the Republican nomination is being sought by 15 other candidates as of June 12. They include recently retired Arizona Adjutant General Michael “Mick” McGuire and Fortune 500 executive Jim Lamon.
Other Republicans vying for the nomination are Wendy Acuna, Craig Brittain, David Buechel, Dan Butierez Sr., Ronald Coale, Eric Corbett, Mark Fisher, Vlad Hermann, Josh McElroy, Rob Paveza, Thomas Tripp, and Chad Yosick. They are joined by Kelly Garett, who also filed a Statement of Interest for governor.
But the Republican primary for Kelly’s seat in Congress could get even more crowded, as Blake Masters of the Thiel Foundation and Christopher Landau, who recently served as U.S. Ambassador to Mexico, are rumored to be considering a run.
As for Kelly, he appears to have only one Democratic Party challenger at this time- Trista DiGenova-Chang, who also filed a Statement of Interest for Governor.
Independent candidates still have several months to submit a Statement of Interest, which must be filed by a candidate before collecting the petition signatures needed to get on the ballot. However, a Statement of Interest is not a formal declaration of candidacy – which is done by filing a nomination paper.