US District Judge Irene Berger dismissed a lawsuit on Thursday aimed at preventing former President Donald Trump from appearing on West Virginia’s primary ballot next year. Berger found that the plaintiff, John Anthony Castro, who identifies as a presidential candidate, did not have standing to bring the lawsuit. Castro argued that including Trump on the ballot would hinder his own chances of winning.
Castro cited Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment to the US Constitution which disqualifies individuals who have participated in insurrection or rebellion against the government. This is the same constitutional provision that the Colorado Supreme Court used to bar Trump from appearing on the state’s ballot earlier this week.
Berger did not bother to examine the claim because the evidence Castro presented left no doubt that Castro’s “purported ‘campaign’ exists as a vehicle for pursuing litigation, not votes.” She further wrote that although Castro “alleged that he is a candidate for the Republican nomination for president and anticipates being on the ballot in West Virginia”, he has no campaign offices or staff in West Virginia and has not advertised in the state.
At the federal level, a party must have standing to bring suit in court. A party must have suffered an “injury in fact,” there must be a causal connection between the injury and the conduct brought before the court, and a favorable decision by the court will redress the injury.
West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, who was named a defendant in the case, praised the ruling in a press release, “This is a big win for the integrity of our elections… This lawsuit was frivolous to begin with and without merit – it had no basis in either law or fact.”
Meanwhile, Castro turned to social media to criticize the ruling. He wrote, “So if I was a corrupt POS running for President to enrich myself and corporate oligarchs, they’d find ‘good faith.’ But because I’m running for President based on my principles, they’re saying it’s in ‘bad faith.'”
Castro has filed similar lawsuits in 27 states and the US Supreme Court in October said it would not hear Castro’s case. His legal challenges have been dismissed in Florida, Rhode Island and New Hampshire. He also opted to withdraw complaints in a dozen other states.