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Former President Donald Trump | Credits: AFP
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New Mexico gears up for June showdown: Presidential primary faces Trump’s candidacy challenge

United States: The major political parties in New Mexico are set to certify presidential candidates to run in the state’s June 4 primary. Still, it’s unclear if any state can forbid Donald Trump from running due to the US Constitution’s anti-insurrection clause.

The Secretary of State’s office in New Mexico will examine party-certified presidential candidates in February to make sure they fulfill the formalities needed to compete for the position. Unless a court with authority steps in, Democratic Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver of New Mexico said she would not bar candidates who fulfill administrative requirements from consideration.

It’s the first time in history that this clause has never been used to prohibit someone from running for the presidency; the Colorado Supreme Court on Tuesday barred Trump from the state’s ballot under section 3 of the 14th Amendment, which forbids anyone from holding office who swore an oath to support the constitution and then “engaged in insurrection” against it. The US Court will likely have the final say over whether the ruling will stand. 

Based on the 14th Amendment’s prohibitions against insurrection, obscure presidential contender John Anthony Castro has filed a federal court challenge against Trump’s eligibility to be listed on the ballots in New Mexico and Arizona. 

The Arizona complaint was dropped earlier this month, and the New Mexico case still seeks a decision. Both in 2016 and 2020, Trump was defeated in New Mexico by a more significant margin.

A state district court judge suspended and expelled a county commissioner from public office in southern New Mexico last year for participating in rioting on January 6, 2021, which prevented Congress from accrediting Joe Biden’s presidential triumph. 

It is unknown whether the United States Supreme Court will hear Couy Griffin, a former Otero County commissioner’s case once it is fully detailed next year; he has filed an appeal with the United States Supreme Court after the New Mexico Supreme Court declined to consider the matter due to missed filing deadlines. 

The constitutional provision that barred Griffin — and now Trump in Colorado — from running for office has only been applied a few times. It was first established to prevent former Confederates from resuming government service.

These are constitutional issues, and it is not the secretary of state’s role to make this kind of a legal finding in New Mexico,” said Alex Curtas, a spokesperson to Secretary of State Toulouse Oliver. 

As long as a candidate meets all the administrative requirements to be placed on the ballot in 2024, they would not be excluded from the ballot unless a court with jurisdiction made a legal finding and ordered that person to be excluded,” Curtas added. 

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