On Thursday, a federal judge appointed by former President Barack Obama rejected an attempt to exclude former President Donald Trump from the West Virginia ballot. District Judge Irene Berger, in response to a lawsuit brought forth by relatively unknown presidential candidate John Anthony Castro, determined that Castro lacked the legal standing to pursue the case.
Judge Berger’s decision emphasized the absence of a substantial campaign presence by Castro in West Virginia, pointing to the lack of campaign offices, staff, or advertising in the state. She highlighted Castro’s negligible presence in polling, minimal recognition among Republican primary voters in West Virginia, and insufficient campaign funds, which she deemed vastly inadequate for a genuine campaign.
The ruling underscored the perception that Castro’s purported “campaign” was primarily a vehicle for legal action rather than a legitimate effort to garner votes. Judge Berger’s stance echoed similar judgments by federal judges in Arizona and Rhode Island, who also concluded that Castro lacked standing due to a lack of serious engagement in the electoral process. Notably, the Supreme Court had previously declined to hear an appeal in a case brought by Castro in Florida in October.
West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, a Republican, expressed satisfaction with the ruling, characterizing it as a significant victory for the rule of law and the integrity of elections. Morrisey dismissed the lawsuit as frivolous and without merit, emphasizing that any eligible candidate has the right to be on the ballot unless legally disqualified. He pledged to defend West Virginia’s laws and uphold the rights of voters and candidates.
Meanwhile, in a separate but related matter, the Colorado Supreme Court has temporarily halted its ruling against Trump until January 4. If Trump files an appeal before that date, the ruling will remain on hold, and the Secretary of State will be obligated to include his name on the ballot by the January 5 certification deadline, unless the justices intervene. The lawsuit in Colorado seeking Trump’s removal originated from Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), a group supported by left-wing donors.