The Iowa Secretary of State’s office has filed a bill that would prevent Iowans from challenging Donald Trump’s place on the 2024 general election ballot on 14th Amendment grounds.

The former president, who won victories in Iowa and New Hampshire this month, is the frontrunner for the Republican nomination in 2024.

But Trump has faced challenges to his candidacy in several states, including Colorado and Maine, which have said he should be removed from their primary ballots under Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution’s 14th Amendment that bars officials from holding office again if they “have engaged in insurrection or rebellion” against the United States.

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear Trump’s appeal of the Colorado challenge, which revolved around his actions leading up to and during the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol, and the court’s decision could determine what happens in other states.

Incumbent Secretary of State Paul Pate speaks to the crowd during the Iowa GOP election night celebration on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022, at the Hilton Des Moines Downtown.

Incumbent Secretary of State Paul Pate speaks to the crowd during the Iowa GOP election night celebration on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022, at the Hilton Des Moines Downtown.

How would the Iowa bill limit ballot challenges for Trump?

The bill filed by Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate, a Republican, would limit the grounds for any challenges to a presidential candidate in the general election.

Political parties are required to submit a certificate with the names of their presidential and vice presidential candidates to the Iowa Secretary of State’s office 81 days before the general election.

Under the bill, challenges to presidential candidates would be limited to whether that certificate meets all the legal requirements.

“It would pretty clearly foreclose any challenge to a presidential candidate for being not qualified under the United States Constitution,” Derek Muller, an election law professor at the University of Notre Dame Law School, said of the bill. “So it would be designed to foreclose a challenge like those filed in Colorado in Maine.”

Under current law, Iowans can challenge primary and general election candidates’ eligibility to appear on the ballot on a variety of grounds.

Ashley Hunt, a spokesperson for Pate, said current law provides a presumption of validity to the paperwork candidates file to run for office and limits what issues are eligible for objection.

“This simply extends that same standard to all candidates explicitly,” she said in an email.

Asked how the bill would affect any potential challenges to Trump, Hunt said it would clarify Iowa’s process for objections.

“To the best of our knowledge, in 2015 Mr. Trump met the Constitutional requirements to be president and continues to do so,” Hunt said in an email. “Mr. Trump has not been convicted of anything that disqualifies him to be president. This bill simply helps clarify the objection process for Iowa.”

Iowa bill would remove felony ban for federal candidates

The Iowa bill would also limit the grounds for challenging all federal candidates, including for the presidency and Congress, by restricting those challenges to the candidate’s age, residency, citizenship and whether their nominating papers meet all the legal requirements.

Hunt said eligibility requirements for Congress and for the presidency are laid out in the U.S. Constitution and states do not have the authority to place additional requirements on federal candidates as they can with candidates for state office.

Iowa law requires candidates for all offices, including federal offices, to attest that they are aware that they are disqualified from holding office if they have been convicted of a felony. The bill would remove that requirement for federal candidates for Congress and the presidency.

Trump currently faces 91 felony charges in four criminal cases around the country.

“The U.S. Constitution sets eligibility requirements for Congress and POTUS,” Hunt said in an email. “This update ensures affidavits comply with those requirements.”

Muller said he sees that provision of the bill as more of a technical cleanup.

“You can’t challenge somebody for being a felon for federal office because that’s not one of the qualifications listed in the Constitution,” Muller said. “So this is designed to pull that out and say this is not a basis for an objection.”

The text of the pre-filed bill from the secretary of state’s office appeared on the Iowa Legislature’s website on Jan. 18. It has not yet been given a bill number or assigned to a committee.

Under current Iowa law, objections to candidates must be made in writing. The challenges are heard by a three-member State Objection Panel, made up of the secretary of state, the state auditor and the attorney general.

Stephen Gruber-Miller covers the Iowa Statehouse and politics for the Register. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or by phone at 515-284-8169. Follow him on Twitter at @sgrubermiller.

This article originally appeared on Des Moines Register: Iowa bill would bar 14th Amendment challenges to Trump’s candidacy

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