A recent ruling by a Michigan judge has ensured that former President Donald Trump will stay on the state’s primary ballot, marking a setback for those attempting to challenge his candidacy using a Civil War-era clause in the Constitution.
This decision represents the second instance within a week where a state court has chosen not to disqualify Trump from a primary ballot based on the 14th Amendment’s insurrection provision.
Judge James Redford of the Michigan Court of Claims dismissed the notion that Trump’s involvement in the January 6, 2021, Capitol attack necessitated his disqualification from presidential eligibility. Redford emphasized that Trump’s compliance with state laws for ballot qualification prevents the court from removing him.
Moreover, Judge Redford suggested that the determination of whether Trump is disqualified under the Constitution, which prohibits officeholders who have engaged in insurrection, should be a decision for Congress. He argued that such judgments about rebellion or insurrection and individual participation are more appropriately handled by Congress rather than a single judicial officer.
The liberal group Free Speech For People, which has initiated 14th Amendment lawsuits in various states, expressed disappointment with the ruling and plans to appeal immediately to the Michigan Court of Appeals. They also requested the state supreme court to expedite the case.
Trump’s campaign responded through spokesman Steven Cheung, who criticized the lawsuits as unconstitutional and driven by opponents of Trump, aiming to influence the election judicially rather than through the electorate.
Similar legal actions have been taken in other states, portraying Trump as an instigator of the January 6 attack, which aimed to prevent Congress from certifying Joe Biden’s presidential election victory.
The 14th Amendment’s two-sentence clause, rarely used since the post-Civil War era, might eventually lead to a U.S. Supreme Court decision, as it has never been adjudicated in the context of the insurrection clause.
In a related development, the Minnesota Supreme Court recently allowed Trump to remain on the state’s primary ballot, stating that constitutional eligibility is not a concern in party-run contests. However, this leaves open the possibility of future legal challenges regarding the general election ballot.
A decision from a Colorado judge on a similar lawsuit is anticipated by Friday, with closing arguments scheduled for Wednesday.