Judge dismisses attempt to keep 3 Arizona Republicans off ballot

Apr 22, 2022, 10:20 AM | Updated: 10:43 am
From left, U.S. Reps. Andy Biggs, Paul Gosar, state House Rep. Mark Finchem (Twitter Profile Photos...
From left, U.S. Reps. Andy Biggs, Paul Gosar, state House Rep. Mark Finchem (Twitter Profile Photos)
(Twitter Profile Photos)

PHOENIX – A judge on Friday rejected an effort keep three Arizona Republicans off this year’s primary ballots over their alleged involvement in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Christopher Coury issued a ruling ordering the dismissal of the complaints filed earlier this month against U.S. Reps. Andy Biggs and Paul Gosar and state Rep. Mark Finchem, leaving them eligible for the Aug. 2 primary.

Biggs and Gosar are seeking reelection, and Finchem is running for Arizona secretary of state.

Free Speech for People filed complaints against each of the politicians on April 7 on behalf of multiple Arizona voters. The defendants’ attorneys argued to have the complaints dismissed at a combined hearing on Wednesday.

The nonprofit legal advocacy group used Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, which was adopted in 1868, as the basis for its complaints. The Disqualification Clause, as it’s known, originally was written to prevent Confederate officials from holding elected office in the U.S. after the Civil War.

The challenges accused Biggs, Gosar and Finchem of participating in efforts to overturn the 2020 election results and working with organizers of the rally that preceded the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol, which disrupted Congress while it was certifying Joe Biden’s victory. The complaints argued that the lawmakers’ actions “amounted to an insurrection or a rebellion.”

Coury didn’t pass judgement on the allegations.

“Let the record reflect that this ruling neither validates nor disproves Plaintiffs’ allegations against the Candidates,” the ruling says. “The Court expressly is not reaching the merits of the factual allegations in this case.”

The decision was based on Coury’s determination that the only Congress, not a state, can enforce the Disqualification Clause.

“Therefore, given the current state of the law and in accordance with the United States Constitution, Plaintiffs have no private right of action to assert claims under the Disqualification Clause,” the ruling says.

The ruling also says Arizona law has no provision to create a private right of action in the matter.

Free Speech for People filed similar challenges against two other Republican members of Congress — Reps. Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina and Marjorie Taylor-Greene of Georgia.

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Judge dismisses attempt to keep 3 Arizona Republicans off ballot