Oral arguments begin in Trump 14th Amendment cases in Michigan – ABC News
The lawsuits involve efforts to bar him from the state's election ballots.
Oral arguments were underway Thursday in Michigan in lawsuits based on Section 3 of the 14th Amendment seeking to bar former President Donald Trump from appearing on the state's primary and general election ballots.
There will be three lawsuits heard by Judge Robert Redford. Two are challenging Trump's eligibility, suing Michigan's Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson to keep have Trump off the ballot.
The third lawsuit was filed last week by the former president, suing Benson to have it declared she has no authority to keep him to do so.
Following oral arguments, Redford will either decide to dismiss the challenges against the former president or allow them to continue to an evidentiary hearing.
Michigan is one of several states where voters are challenging the former president's eligibility to run for office, citing alleged role in the attack on the Capitol, as oral arguments on the same topic occurred in Minnesota and Colorado last week.
Trump has denied any wrongdoing.
The first case being heard is being brought by Robert Davis, who is suing Benson to keep Trump off the state's primary and general election ballots.
Davis argues Trump's alleged actions on Jan. 6, 2021, should disqualify him from being on the state's ballot.
The second case being argued later this morning, similar to Davis, is being brought by Free Speech For People (FSFP), a nonprofit organization representing a group of Michigan voters who are also seeking to keep Trump off the state's ballot.
In the petitioners' initial complaint filing, they claim Trump cannot appear on the state's primary or general election ballots "because, having sworn an oath to support the Constitution of the United States, he has 'engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof' and is therefore disqualified from public office under Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment."
Lawyers for Trump will argue the petitioners "have no evidence that President Trump intended or supported any violent or unlawful activity seeking to overthrow the government of the United States, either on January 6th or at any other time."
The final lawsuit being heard later this afternoon was filed in late October by Trump asking the court to declare that Benson has no authority to remove the former president from the state's ballot.
"This Court should enter a declaratory judgment confirming that the Secretary has no authority to refuse to place President Trump's name on the ballot and enter an injunction stopping her from doing so," Trump's lawyers write in the legal documents.
Trump's attorneys also argue that the 14th Amendment does not apply to Trump as "the president is not an officer of the United States and does not take the same oath to support the Constitution as unelected officials."
Although Benson is the respondent in all these lawsuits, she has previously said that she does not have the authority to remove Trump from the ballot, even if he violated the 14th Amendment. Benson stated the decision on whether Trump remains on the ballot in Michigan and other states will likely be decided by the US Supreme Court.
A spokesperson for Benson previously told ABC News her office does not comment on pending litigation.
There is no deadline that the judge needs to adhere to when deciding if the challenges to Trump's eligibility should continue. However, the judge's decision could possibly be appealed to the Michigan Supreme Court.
The lawsuits that are taking place in Michigan, Minnesota and Colorado are part of a legal effort to keep Trump of the ballot in 2024, but so far, some of those endeavors have not done well in court.
The Minnesota Supreme Court dismissed the lawsuit late Wednesday afternoon to bar Trump from the state's ballot.
In their opinion, justices concluded "that petitioners have standing and that their claims are ripe as to the issue of whether former President Trump should be excluded from the 2024 Republican presidential nomination primary. We reach a different conclusion regarding petitioners' claim that it would be error for the Secretary of State to place former President Trump's name on the ballot for the 2024 general election ballot. That claim is neither ripe, nor is it "about to occur…."
In a statement released by FSFP, they expressed their disappointment in the court’s decision but stated that the ruling of the Minnesota Supreme Court has no impact on similar lawsuits happening in Michigan and Colorado.
The former president responded to the challenged dismissal, saying that the court's ruling validates their argument that Section 3 of the 14th Amendment is being used to interfere with the election.
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