Lawsuit seeks to declare Trump ineligible for Wisconsin ballot

NOW: Lawsuit seeks to declare Trump ineligible for Wisconsin ballot

MADISON, Wis. (CBS 58) -- A new legal challenge has been filed seeking to bar former President Donald Trump from their primary ballot because of his role in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Kirk Bangstad, owner of Minocqua Brewing Company, filed a lawsuit in Dane County Court Friday that argues the U.S. Constitution's insurrection clause bans Trump from holding public office and therefore he shouldn't appear on Wisconsin's primary ballot.

Similar legal challenges have been largely unsuccessful.

However, Bangstad and those who support his efforts point to Colorado and Maine, where the supreme court and secretary of state, respectively, have disqualified the GOP frontrunner on their primary ballots.

According to a database built by Lawfare, suits challenging Trump's eligibility are pending in more than a dozen states.

This week, Trump's lawyers asked the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn Colorado's ruling and to vacate Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellows' decision that removed him from the ballot.

It comes as the nation's highest court is facing mounting pressure to settle the question of whether Trump is eligible to run again for the White House.

"[Trump] repeated a lie that helped all these people think they were doing something for America," Bangstad told reporters. "But instead, it was an actual insurrection against America."

Howard Schweber, a political science professor at University of Wisconsin-Madison Law School, said the lawsuit is essentially moot because he believes the U.S. Supreme Court will ultimately have the final say.   

"There's no question that this issue is going to go to the United States Supreme Court, so all of this is kind of performative," Schweber said.

Bangstad acknowledged his effort will likely fail, conceding it's most likely the nation's high court will end up "dinging" lawsuits such as his.

Nevertheless, he said it was important to seek accountability for Trump and the state's fake Republican electors.

"If we believe nothing is happening, you're gonna get the wild-eyed guys like me coming out and filing these lawsuits," he said. "Because we're not getting any leadership from our leaders, even our Democratic leaders."

Schweber said one could make a compelling legal argument for disqualifying Trump. He noted Section 3 of the 14th Amendment does not require a criminal conviction, just that someone had been "engaged in insurrection or rebellion."

Still, the clause clearly disqualifies people from seeking a seat in Congress, but it doesn't specify the office of president. Schweber said courts could struggle with the question of whether presidents meets the definition of "officer of the United States" or even how to define insurrection. 

Because of that, he believes state courts, and ultimately the nation's high court, will reject the effort to keep Trump off the ballot.

"I expect the Wisconsin court to find any number of reasons to decline to grant, to strike Trump from the ballot for political reasons, as well as legal reasons," Schweber said. "I think this will be told as the story of the moment when Section 3 of the 14th Amendment was buried."

Trump's supporters have argued lawsuits such as Bangstad's are an effort to deny voters a chance to select their preferred candidate. Schwarber said that additional political pressure would weigh on judges, too.

"Only someone as disreputable as Kirk Bangstad would try and deny voters the freedom to decide the next president," Wisconsin GOP Chairman Brian Schimming said in a statement.

Last week, the Wisconsin Elections Commission rejected Bangstad's complaint that also sought to disqualify Trump, largely due to the fact the commission does not decide who's on the ballot.

That's left up to the bipartisan Presidential Preference Selection Committee who agreed this week to include six Republican presidential candidates, including Trump, on the April 2 ballot.  

This story will be updated.

Share this article: