A federal lawsuit aimed at blocking former President Donald Trump from appearing on the West Virginia electoral ballot has been dismissed.
U.S. District Judge Irene Berger ruled against Texas resident John Anthony Castro’s action, which argued that Trump should not feature in the primary and general election ballots.
The lawsuit in West Virginia is one of the nine active federal cases, including New Hampshire, Florida, Utah, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, brought by Texas resident John Anthony Castro, a self-proclaimed Republican presidential candidate.
He has filed challenges in 27 states regarding Mr. Trump’s eligibility on the ballot under the 14th Amendment over the years, including a case with the Supreme Court, the Times reveals.
The lawsuit was initially propelled by Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment, suggesting that anyone who has engaged in insurrection or rebellion is disqualified from federal office—a clause echoed in this week’s Colorado Supreme Court decision against Trump’s ballot eligibility there.
Castro claimed that Trump’s inclusion would diminish his own chances of electoral success.
However, U.S. District Judge Irene C. Berger dismissed the case, citing a lack of evidence from Castro that he had a legitimate campaign presence in West Virginia or that his write-in presidential campaign would be harmed by Trump’s inclusion on the ballot.
Berger noted that Castro had no campaign offices, staff, or advertising in West Virginia, was not present in polling, and had minimal campaign funds. The judge also highlighted that Castro’s lawsuits in multiple states appeared more focused on litigation than securing votes.
News and Sentinel reported:
In a memorandum opinion and order released Thursday evening, U.S. District Judge Irene C. Berger granted motions made by attorneys for Trump, Secretary of State Mac Warner, and the West Virginia Republican Party to dismiss a lawsuit brought in September by Texas resident and write-in presidential candidate John Anthony Castro.
Berger also ordered that Castro’s case be dismissed without prejudice, which would allow Castro to possibly file the case again during the candidate filing period in West Virginia beginning Monday, Jan. 8, through Saturday, Jan. 27.
“This is a big win for the integrity of our elections,” said Attorney General Patrick Morrisey in a statement Thursday evening. “This lawsuit was frivolous to begin with and without merit – it had no basis in either law or fact. Any eligible candidate has the right to be on the ballot unless legally disqualified, and we will defend the laws of West Virginia and the right of voters and candidates to the fullest.”
In her memorandum opinion, Berger said that Castro’s lawsuit was disingenuous, considering that there were no signs that Castro had actively campaigned for president in West Virginia or had any campaign presence in the state at all.
“The evidence establishes that he has no campaign offices, staff, or advertising in West Virginia, does not appear in polling, has little name recognition among West Virginia Republican primary voters, and has extremely minimal campaign funds, vastly insufficient to run an actual campaign,” Berger wrote. “If there were any question as to whether the allegations in the complaint are sufficient to overcome a facial challenge, the evidentiary submissions remove any doubt that Mr. Castro’s purported ‘campaign’ exists as a vehicle for pursuing litigation, not votes.”
The dismissal of the lawsuit in West Virginia is seen as a victory for the integrity of elections, according to statements from Attorney General Patrick Morrisey.
“This lawsuit was frivolous to begin with and without merit — it had no basis in either law or fact. Any eligible candidate has the right to be on the ballot unless legally disqualified, and we will defend the laws of West Virginia and the right of voters and candidates to the fullest,” Morrisey said per WVNews.
Castro criticized the ruling, saying, “West Virginia Federal Judge Irene Berger declares that I’m running for President “in bad faith” to “manufacture” standing. 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.” Our system is beyond corrupt.””
West Virginia Federal Judge Irene Berger declares that I’m running for President “in bad faith” to “manufacture” standing.
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… pic.twitter.com/RiLq2JRX1T
— John Anthony Castro (@realJohnACastro) December 21, 2023