A Michigan judge ruled Tuesday that former President Donald Trump can stay on the state’s primary ballot in 2024, dismissing one of several challenges to block a Trump candidacy by using an insurrection clause in the U.S. Constitution.
The lawsuit — led by the left-wing nonprofit organization Free Speech for Free Peoples, argues Trump violated section 3 of the 14th Amendment in connection with the U.S. Capitol breach on January 6, 2021. The clause bars anyone who previously took an oath of office from running for office if they have “engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof.”
But Michigan Court of Claims Judge James Redford reportedly said that under state law, the secretary of state lacks authority to intervene in a primary election. The judge reportedly said he could not remove Trump from the primary ballot because the former president followed state law to qualify.
“The ultimate decision is made by the respective political party, with the consent of the listed candidate,” the judge wrote.
Ron Fein, legal director and attorney for the petitioners of Free Speech For People, said the group would appeal the ruling immediately.
“The Michigan Supreme Court should reverse this badly-reasoned lower court decision,” Fein said in a news release. “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 Fourteenth Amendment against Donald Trump.”
Trump campaign spokesman Steven Cheung celebrated the judge’s decision in a statement.
“Each and every one of these ridiculous cases have LOST because they are all un-Constitutional left-wing 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,” Cheung said in a statement, adding he anticipated similar wins in similar attempts to remove Trump from the primary ballot in other states.
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Efforts to remove Trump from state ballots using the insurrection clause have been appearing in a series of lawsuits nationwide from critics of the leading Republican contender.
According to Cornell University’s Legal Information Institute, U.S. officials ratified the Amendment in 1868 in the aftermath of the Civil War during the Reconstruction Era, which was designed to represent a new birth of freedom for previously disenfranchised citizens.
Trump has criticized the lawsuits as “frivolous,” claiming that “radical Democrat dark money groups” fund the legal challenges to interfere with his attempt to retake the White House in 2025.
“This is like a banana republic,” Trump told radio host Dan Bongino. “And what they’re doing is, it’s called election interference. … Now the 14th Amendment is just a continuation of that. It’s nonsense.”
Last week, the Minnesota Supreme Court dismissed the left-wing group’s legal challenge, saying state law allows political parties to put anyone on a primary ballot.
Other groups in Arizona, Colorado, and New Hampshire have also filed similar lawsuits against Trump. But last month, Colorado became the first state to bring its challenge to trial under the constitutional measure — which has rarely been used over the last 150 years. A state judge reportedly scheduled closing arguments for next week.
Legal experts reportedly expect the issue to eventually reach the U.S. Supreme Court.
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