Ballot Cleansing: Democrats are Moving to Bar Republicans from Ballots Nationwide

by | Jan 5, 2024

Below is my column in the New York Post on the expansion of the 14th Amendment theory to attempt to remove Republican candidates for Congress from the ballots. Dozens of Democratic members have already called for the disqualification of up to 126 Republican colleagues under the same sweeping theory. These efforts show how this theory could place this country on a slippery slope to political chaos if not clearly and finally rejected by the Supreme Court.

Here is the column:

As the decisions disqualifying former President Donald Trump from the 2024 election work their way through the courts, a new filing in Pennsylvania seeks the same “ballot cleansing” by barring Repubfenablican Rep. Scott Perry.

It’s only the latest effort targeting congressional candidates as Democrats seek to bar opponents as “insurrectionists” for questioning the election of President Biden.

We have become a nation of Madame Defarges — eagerly knitting names of those to be subject to arbitrary justice.

Former congressional candidate Gene Stilp, who’s previously made headlines by burning MAGA flags with swastikas outside courthouses, filed the challenge.

Using the 14th Amendment to disqualify candidates like Perry is consistent with Stilp’s signature flag-burning stunts.

But what’s chilling is how many support such efforts, including Democratic officeholders from Maine’s Secretary of State to dozens of members of Congress.

Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) sought to bar 126 members of Congress under the same theory for challenging the election before Jan. 6, 2021.

Similar legislation from Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.) to disqualify members got 63 co-sponsors, all Democrats, including New York Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Jamaal Bowman and Ritchie Torres and “Squad” members Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan.

When Maine’s secretary of state disqualified Trump, three in the state’s congressional delegation — Sens. Angus King (I) and Susan Collins (R) and Rep. Jared Golden (D) — condemned the decision. But others supported the antidemocratic action.

The grounds were virtually identical to those of Stilp. He accuses Perry of supporting challenges to Biden’s election and opposing its certification.

Of course, he ignores Democratic members who sought to block certification of Republican presidents under the very same law with no factual or legal basis.

Former Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) praised the effort then-Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) organized to challenge the certification of President George W. Bush’s 2004 re-election.

Jan. 6 committee head Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) voted to challenge it in the House.

Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) sought to block certification of the 2016 election result — particularly ironic since he’s a leading voice calling for Trump to be disqualified.

He insisted last week on CNN that the effort to prevent citizens from voting for Trump is the very embodiment of democracy: “If you think about it, of all of the forms of disqualification that we have, the one that disqualifies people for engaging in insurrection is the most democratic because it’s the one where people choose themselves to be disqualified.”

That is akin to treating every criminal charge as a consensual act of incarceration because the accused chose his path in life.

This is also being played out in state races.

The filing against Perry came the same day Pennsylvania Democratic state Sen. Art Haywood made public a complaint to the Senate Ethics Committee against his Republican colleague Doug Mastriano accusing him of playing a role in the plot to overturn the election.

Notably, in his effort to “hold insurrectionists accountable,” Haywood admitted he relied on the same evidence from Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington that was used in the Colorado case.

“Insurrectionist” is the newest label to excuse any abuse.

During the McCarthy period, individuals were accused of being Communists or “fellow travelers.”

Now you have Stilp accusing Perry of being “supportive of insurrectionists.”

Democrats and pundits have claimed civil libertarians and journalists who have testified against the government’s growing censorship efforts are enablers of  insurrectionists and even “Putin lovers.”

These Democratic members and activists vividly demonstrated the dangerous implications of this unfounded theory.

Figures like Stilp are wrong on the law but right about one thing: There are few real limits once you embrace this theory.

If the challenges work, there is no reason they can’t be used unilaterally against any candidate (and without any criminal charges, let alone convictions).

It is instantly both self-executing and self-satisfying. It would put the world’s most successful democracy on a slippery slope to political chaos.

That is why the Supreme Court needs to take up this issue and put this pernicious theory to bed once and for all.

Until the court rejects this antidemocratic ploy, activists eager to win elections through the courts will keep using it, and it will metastasize throughout our body politic.

With the support of elected officials across the country, they can then join Stilp in moving from burning flags to torching the Constitution in a fit of exhilarating rage.

Reprinted with permission from


  • Jonathan Turley

    Professor Jonathan Turley is a nationally recognized legal scholar who has written extensively in areas ranging from constitutional law to legal theory to tort law. He has written over three dozen academic articles that have appeared in a variety of leading law journals at Cornell, Duke, Georgetown, Harvard, Northwestern, University of Chicago, and other schools.

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