(The Center Square) — New Hampshire Attorney General John Formella has sent a letter to the secretary of state and chairman of the Ballot Law Commission to “provide guidance” on his interpretation of the U.S. Constitution’s 14th Amendment.
He says the secretary of state is not given “discretion to withhold a candidate’s name from the ballot.”
In the letter sent to Secretary of State David Scanlon and Chairman Bradford Cook, Formella clarifies that the secretary of state must place a presidential primary candidate’s name on the ballot if the candidate files in time and pays the appropriate filing fees.
In addition, Formella underscores a presumption of innocence concerning the constitutional amendment.
“[The secretary of state cannot] withhold a candidate’s name from the ballot on the grounds that the candidate may be disqualified under Section 3 when a candidate has not been convicted or otherwise adjudicated guilty of conduct that would disqualify a candidate under Section 3,” the attorney general wrote.
Formella also addressed the Ballot Law Commission’s authority to hear disputes regarding whether “declarations of candidacy conform with the law.”
“The commission’s authority is limited to reviewing the sufficiency of a declaration of candidacy and does not extend to hearing disputes over whether a candidate is disqualified under Section 3,” said Formella.
The legal guidance request is in response to a request to clarify whether Section 3 of the 14th Amendment could be used to disqualify former President Donald Trump from holding the office of president again – specifically stemming from charges filed against the former president alleging his involvement in the Jan. 6, 2021, U.S. Capitol riots.
Several political leaders and candidates have proposed barring Trump from many state ballots, citing the 14th Amendment, including some Republicans.
Former U.S. Senate candidate Bryant “Corky” Messner, who campaigned off Trump’s endorsement in 2020, has been vocal in calling the former president’s ballot eligibility into question on the grounds of the 14th Amendment.
While several other political leaders question the eligibility of a Trump candidacy, campaign eyes eagerly await an announcement from Scanlon on when he will set the New Hampshire primary, maintaining the state’s first-in-the-nation status.