Trump critic drops lawsuit aiming to keep him off NC ballot

Donald Trump Greensboro Rally Source: Jacob Emmons, Carolina Journal

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  • A Stokes County man has dropped his lawsuit aiming to keep former President Donald Trump off North Carolina's election ballot.
  • Brian Martin filed suit in December. He aimed to guarantee the State Board of Elections' authority to remove Trump from the March 5 primary ballot.
  • The US Supreme Court ruled on March 4 that only Congress could remove a candidate based on the 14th Amendment provisions cited in Martin's election complaint. Trump won North Carolina's primary with 74% of the vote the following day.

A Stokes County attorney and businessman has dropped his lawsuit aiming to guarantee the North Carolina State Board of Elections’ authority to block Donald Trump from the state’s election ballot.

Brian Martin filed a notice of voluntary dismissal Wednesday in Wake County Superior Court.

Martin had gone to court on Dec, 29. That was 10 days after the state elections board rejected his complaint seeking Trump’s removal from the Republican primary ballot.

The lawsuit filed three days before the new year sought an expedited hearing, but state courts took no action before Trump won the March 5 primary with 74% of the vote.

Trump’s Super Tuesday victory came one day after the US Supreme Court ruled that states could not remove him from the ballot. A unanimous high court rejected Colorado’s attempt to strip Trump from the ballot. A majority of justices ruled that only Congress could enforce Section 3 of the US Constitution’s 14th Amendment. That post-Civil War provision was designed to prevent people involved in insurrections from serving in a federal office.

Martin’s complaint to the State Board of Elections targeted the exact same provision of the US Constitution covered in the Supreme Court ruling.

While Martin’s complaint died in North Carolina’s courts, it did spark interest among state and federal lawmakers.

State House Speaker Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, and Rep. Grey Mills, R-Iredell, announced on Dec. 20 that they would look for ways to ensure Trump remained on the state’s ballot. On the same day that Trump secured support from North Carolina’s Republicans, Moore won a GOP primary in the 14th District congressional race. Mills lost a primary in the 10th District.

At the federal level, US Sen. Thom Tillis, R-North Carolina, also announced plans in December to pursue legislation blocking states from removing presidential candidates from the ballot. Colorado’s unsuccessful attempt to strip Trump from the ballot prompted Tillis’ action.

In February, Democratic state Sen. Jay Chaudhuri of Wake County announced plans to file a bill that would empower the State Board of Elections to remove a candidate from the ballot under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment. It’s likely that the US Supreme Court’s March 4 ruling will preclude any Democratic state lawmakers from moving forward with that plan.