President Donald Trump delivers a speech that dwelled in parts on attacking opponents, the news media, protesters and Democrats, while declaring his administration has racked up accomplishments.

A write-in candidate seeking the 2024 Republican presidential nomination filed a lawsuit in federal court last week that aims to disqualify Donald Trump from appearing on the ballot in Oklahoma. 

John Anthony Castro, a Dallas-based tax advisor and perennial candidate who unsuccessfully ran for state House and U.S. Senate seats in Texas prior to his presidential bid, claims the former president violated Section 3 of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution during the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol attack and is ineligible to run. 

This section, known commonly as the disqualification clause, bars a person from holding state or federal office if they previously took an oath to support the Constitution and then “engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given comfort to the enemies thereof.” It was ratified during the Reconstruction Era to keep former Confederate officials from getting elected. 

State Election Board Secretary Paul Ziriax and Trump are listed as defendants in the lawsuit, which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma. U.S. District Judge Jodi Dishman is presiding over the case. 

Castro has filed similar lawsuits in 11 other states that Trump won or lost by a close margin in 2020, including Kansas, Arizona, North Carolina and Utah. His legal track record is mostly unproven. While several media outlets have called him an attorney, he stated in a recent federal court filing that he has never been licensed to practice law in any state. In 2018, Georgetown University barred Castro from participating in a job fair because he embellished his resume. 

This case and others could come down to how courts interpret the 14th amendment, which has been rarely considered nor debated over the past 150 years, the Christian Science Monitor reported last week

Some scholars believe the language shouldn’t be interpreted to include the presidency or that Trump’s actions don’t fall into the narrow definition of engaging in insurrection or giving comfort to an enemy. Neama Rahmani, a former federal prosecutor, told Newsweek last week that Castro is unlikely to succeed because he hasn’t been convicted of any crime. 

Others, including two constitutional law professors who are members of the Federalist Society, side with a broad interpretation of Section Three and argue that state and federal judges should immediately bar candidates whose prior actions violate its terms. 

“The Constitution is a binding, authoritative written text, not a collection of specific historical purposes and intentions,” Law professors William Baude and Michael Stokes Paulsen wrote in an edition of the University of Pennsylvania law review published last month. “Where the text applies, it applies. Its legal force is not limited to the immediate problem or purpose that prompted its enactment.”

The courts in Oklahoma and elsewhere will have to operate on an expedited timeline to decide these cases. The first-in-the-nation Iowa Caucuses are set for Jan. 12. Republicans and Democrats in Oklahoma will head to the polls on March 12 to vote on presidential nominees. 

Recent polls show Trump’s popularity in Oklahoma, where he won all 77 counties in 2016 and 2020, remains strong. Half of likely Republican voters who responded to an Amber Integrated poll last month said Trump is their top choice in the presidential primary. 

What are your thoughts on this legal challenge? Have story ideas, tips or thoughts on how Oklahoma Watch should cover the 2024 presidential election? Let me know at

What I’m Reading This Week

  • Service Oklahoma Focuses On Hiring, New Programs to Reduce Wait Times: Oklahoma lawmakers formed Service Oklahoma last year to streamline the process for Oklahomans to get driver’s licenses and other government-issued credentials, but lines and lengthy wait times plagued some locations this summer. Officials say they plan to implement additional changes to improve service. [Oklahoma Voice]
  • Oklahoma Parole Board Official Accused of Unwanted Contact in Episcopal Church: The accuser claims Edward Konieczny, who Gov. Kevin Stitt appointed to the board in January 2022, made unwanted and non-consensual physical contact with her during a church event in New York last year. [The Oklahoman]
  • Wes Nofire Tapped for Native American Liaison Role in Oklahoma Governor’s Office: Gov. Kevin Stitt says Nofire, a former Cherokee Nation tribal council member, will be “a bridge” between his office and the state’s tribal nations. Nofire has openly criticized the McGirt v. Oklahoma decision as tribal nation leaders tout it as a win for their sovereignty. [KOSU]

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