Trump can appear on Republican primary ballot in Michigan, judge rules – The Guardian US
Setback for challengers who say Trump should be barred from presidential run under ‘insurrection’ clause of 14th amendment
Donald Trump can appear on the ballot for the Republican primary in Michigan, a state judge ruled on Tuesday, a setback to challengers who argue he is constitutionally disqualified from being president because of his actions on 6 January 2021.
The lawsuit is one of several that left-leaning groups have filed across the country arguing that section 3 of the 14th amendment bars Trump from holding office. The provision says anyone who takes an oath to the United States and then engages in “insurrection” or “rebellion” against the nation cannot hold office unless Congress votes by two-thirds majority to allow them. The measure was adopted after the civil war and has not been tested.
In Michigan, that language does not prevent a candidate from appearing on the ballot for a party primary for the purposes of selecting a nominee, Judge James Robert Redford, of the Michigan court of claims, ruled on Tuesday. While he left the door open to a challenge should Trump become the nominee, he suggested courts could not prevent Trump from appearing on the ballot because the core question in the matter was one for Congress, not judges.
“The questions involved are by their nature political,” Redford wrote in his opinion. “It takes the decision of whether there was a rebellion of insurrection and whether or not someone participated in it from the Congress, a body made up of elected representatives of the people of every state in the nation, and gives it to but one single judicial officer.”
Ron Fein, the legal director for Free Speech for People, who represented the challengers in the case, said the court “adopted a discredited theory that claims that only Congress can decide whether a presidential candidate fails to meet constitutional qualifications for office”.
Fein said his group would appeal the case to the Michigan supreme court and seek to bypass the Michigan court of appeals. Democrats have a 4-3 majority on the bench there. The Michigan case is being closely watched because it is one of several battleground states critical for a presidential candidate to win next year.
“The Michigan supreme court should reverse this badly reasoned lower-court decision. While our appeal is pending, the trial court’s decision isn’t binding on any other court, and we continue our current and planned legal actions in other states to enforce section 3 of the 14th amendment against Donald Trump,” Fein said in a statement.
Steven Cheung, a spokesman for the Trump campaign, praised the ruling.
“Each and every one of these ridiculous cases have LOST because they are all un-constitutional leftwing fantasies orchestrated by monied allies of the Biden campaign seeking to turn the election over to the courts and deny the American people the right to choose their next president,” he said in a statement.
The Michigan secretary of state, Jocelyn Benson, a Democrat who was once an election law professor, tweeted she was “gratified that today’s court ruling affirms my position that under Michigan law anyone generally advocated by the news media to be a candidate for the Republican and Democratic nomination for president must be listed on the February 2024 primary ballot”.
She added: “As the court notes, any consideration of a candidate’s eligibility to serve under the 14th amendment of the constitution should occur after they are nominated or elected.”
Last week, the Minnesota supreme court also dismissed a 14th-amendment challenge, saying the constitutional provision could not block Trump from appearing on a primary ballot. A trial court in Colorado also oversaw a five-day evidentiary hearing on a challenge there and is expected to issue a ruling soon.
Legal experts widely expect the ruling to be decided by the US supreme court, to which Trump appointed three of the six conservative justices that comprise a supermajority.