The Massachusetts State Ballot Law Commission has dismissed a challenge against Donald Trump’s candidacy based on his role in the January 6, 2021, insurrection.
The panel rejected the case on procedural grounds Monday, finding that the commission didn’t have jurisdiction to address the matter. The outcome is a victory for the former president, but the panel avoided grappling with questions around his culpability for the deadly attack on the US Capitol.
Massachusetts is one of several states where Trump’s eligibility to run for president is being tested, based on the “insurrectionist ban” enshrined in the Constitution’s 14th Amendment. He has been removed from the ballot in Colorado and Maine, but those decisions are paused while the US Supreme Court considers Trump’s appeal in the Colorado case.
The Massachusetts commissioners met briefly last week in Boston and heard arguments on procedural questions.
“We believe that Mr. Trump’s candidacy for this office and placement on the Massachusetts ballot violates the Constitution, so we are challenging the constitutionality,” said Shannon Liss-Riordan, an attorney for the challengers. “It is the job of this commission to hear objections to the legality of placement of candidates on the ballot.”
Trump’s lawyers urged the panel to dismiss the objection. His legal team has previously convinced judges in Michigan, Minnesota and other key states to throw out similar challenges based on procedural grounds.
“There is nothing in the case law or the statutes that the commission is required to follow that says qualification to be on a ballot is a pre-condition to appear on the ballot,” Trump lawyer Marc Salinas said.
The Massachusetts commission is an independent and bipartisan panel, whose members are appointed by the state’s governor. The chairman is a Republican appointee, and the other two members are Democratic appointees.
Decisions made by the commission can be appealed in Massachusetts courts.