Sen. Thom Tillis and a group of Republican senators are introducing a bill on Thursday that would make it so only the Supreme Court can decide whether to block a candidate from the ballot for allegedly engaging in insurrection – a direct response to efforts to remove former President Donald Trump from the ballot in the upcoming election.
“We’re seeing the games played. We’ve seen it in Colorado. We’ve seen it in Maine and other states,” Tillis, R-N.C., said in an exclusive interview with Fox News. “And I’ll guarantee you, when the situation is reversed, you will have Republicans doing this. We need to put this to bed.”
Tillis added: “Part of what I’m trying to do here is calm the waters.”
Tillis who announced his intent to bring the legislation last month, was joined by Sens. J.D. Vance, R-Ohio, Rick Scott, R-Fla., Ted Budd, R-N.C., and Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyo.
The main enforcement mechanism in the bill is a provision which would ban the use of any federal funds to run elections in a state where an official tries to block a candidate from the ballot under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment.
That is the section of the 14th Amendment cited by the Colorado Supreme Court and Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellows to block Trump from appearing in their respective states’ presidential elections. It says anyone who “shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion,” against the United States may not hold federal or state office.
“The record establishes that Mr. Trump, over the course of several months and culminating on January 6, 2021, used a false narrative of election fraud to inflame his supporters and direct them to the Capitol to prevent the certification of the 2020 election and the peaceful transfer of power,” Bellows wrote in her decision disallowing Trump from the ballot.
Trump is fighting the Colorado ballot ban in the U.S. Supreme Court, and the Maine ban in Maine’s Superior Court.
Tillis’ bill also bars any state courts from considering a case on the eligibility of someone to run for office who allegedly engaged in insurrection.
Instead, Tillis’ bill would create a system in which a panel of federal district court judges would collect facts on the case, before passing that information to the Supreme Court to make a final judgment.
“A Federal district court of 3 judges shall be convened when an action is filed in Federal district court challenging the ballot eligibility of a candidate for the Office of President of the United States,” the text of the bill says. “The 3-judge panel shall make findings of fact, which shall be transmitted to the Supreme Court of the United States. Upon receipt of these findings of fact, the Supreme Court shall consider the matter on an expedited basis before issuing a ruling on the findings of law.”
Tillis said conversations to build support for the bill among Republicans have gone well. But he said he is trying to get broader support too, emphasizing that this is likely to be an issue in future elections unless Congress acts.
“It was an abuse of power at the state level. It needs to end, and I believe our bill ends it,” Tillis added.