Trump Is Already Facing a Lawsuit to Stop His 2024 Campaign

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(Bloomberg) -- Donald Trump is facing the first legal challenge to his eligibility to run for president in 2024 since declaring his candidacy, only weeks after a congressional committee investigating the US Capitol attack suggested he be disqualified from ever holding office again.

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The lawsuit was filed Friday in federal court in Florida by John Anthony Castro, an attorney in Texas. Castro, like the former president, is seeking the Republican nomination for 2024 and has registered his campaign with the Federal Election Commission. He’s asking a judge to declare Trump constitutionally ineligible to hold office and to order a halt to any campaigning and fundraising.

Castro’s case is the first of what’s expected to be more efforts to try to block Trump from running under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment of the US Constitution, which bars someone from continuing to hold public office if they engage in insurrection.

It’s a relatively novel area of law but one that’s gained attention and interest following efforts by Trump and allies to undermine the 2020 presidential election results. Section 3 got a nod in the Jan. 6 congressional panel’s final report, though past efforts by lawmakers to create a clearer enforcement mechanism haven’t gone anywhere.

Speaking by phone from West Palm Beach, Florida, where he’d flown to file the lawsuit in person, Castro acknowledged that he was entering uncharted legal territory but said he wanted to start testing the disqualification option against Trump as soon as possible. Several advocacy groups have vowed to challenge Trump’s spot on ballots on a state-by-state basis, but Castro said that wouldn’t be an option until states started accepting 2024 candidate filings later this year.

“I don’t feel comfortable waiting that long,” he said.

A spokesperson for Trump’s campaign did not immediately return a request for comment.

Castro is representing himself. He attempted to stop Trump’s third presidential run last year before Trump launched his campaign, filing a lawsuit that argued the Federal Election Commission should declare Trump ineligible under the 14th Amendment. A judge dismissed the case in December, finding Castro lacked standing because the FEC didn’t have the authority to decide who was constitutionally eligible to run. Castro is appealing.

In the Florida case, he’s arguing that his standing is rooted in Trump’s status as his “political competitor.”

The South Florida court’s random assignment process put Castro’s case before US District Judge Aileen Cannon, who presided over Trump’s challenge last year to the Justice Department’s handling of documents seized from his Mar-a-Lago estate. Castro said he would seek to disqualify Cannon, who was nominated by Trump, from handling his case, citing her rulings in the documents case in Trump’s favor.

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