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Trump Election: Michigan supreme court rejects ballot disqualification bid

The US Supreme Court of Michigan has declined to consider an appeal filed by state voters seeking to exclude Donald Trump from the 2024 presidential primary.

A US Constitutional provision that prohibits anyone who has participated in insurrection was invoked by them in reference to Mr. Trump’s involvement in the Capitol riots of 2021.

Days have passed since Colorado became the first state to declare that Mr. Trump was ineligible to run for office.

In the general election of 2024, Michigan is regarded as a competitive state.

Typically voting Democratic, Michigan barely backed Republican Mr. Trump during his victorious 2016 presidential campaign. However, when Joe Biden won the state in 2020 by a margin of over 3%, the Democrats took back control of it.

Trump Election: Michigan supreme court rejects ballot disqualification bid

The Michigan bid failed early, in contrast to Colorado in the process, and the appeal to the state’s supreme court was seen as having little chance of success.

Mr Trump praised the decision on Truth Social on Wednesday, calling it a “pathetic gambit to rig the Election”. The ruling means that his name will appear on the ballot for the Republican primary, set to be held on 27 February.

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Pro-democracy advocacy group Free Speech for People filed the lawsuit in September, and the group said in a statement that the ruling was a narrow and technical one that applied only to the state’s Republican primary.

“However, the Michigan Supreme Court did not rule out that the question of Donald Trump’s disqualification for engaging in insurrection against the US Constitution may be resolved at a later stage,” said Ron Fein, Free Speech For People’s legal director.

Lower courts in Michigan rejected the case on procedural grounds and did not examine the question of whether the Capitol riot 6 January 2021 qualified as an insurrection under the law and whether Mr Trump played a part in it.

Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth Welch explained that Michigan’s laws were different from Colorado’s.

The appellants “have identified no analogous provision in the Michigan Election Law that requires someone seeking the office of President of the United States to attest to their legal qualification to hold the office”, she wrote.

Colorado’s 4-3 supreme court decision last week, which refers only to the state’s Republican primary on 5 March, does not stop Mr Trump from running in other states.

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In the Colorado case, a lower court judge ruled that Mr Trump fell afoul of Section 3 of the US Constitution’s 14th Amendment which bars officials “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” from holding federal office.

It was the first instance of the Constitution being used to disqualify a presidential candidate. The amendment was ratified after the American Civil War to block Confederate secessionists from returning to power after southern states re-joined the Union.

But legal experts say the ruling will have a tough time standing up when, as expected, it reaches the conservative-leaning US Supreme Court.

Jocelyn Benson, Michigan’s secretary of state – a position that among other things oversees elections – said the legal issues raised by the 14th Amendment were not clear cut.

Ms Benson, a Democrat, also said she believed the questions should ultimately be resolved by the US Supreme Court.

“I continue to hope they do this sooner rather than later to ensure that we can move forward into 2024’s election season focused on ensuring all voters are fully informed and universally engaged in deciding the issues at stake,” she said.

The Colorado decision has been put on hold pending an appeal deadline in January. Similar attempts to kick Mr Trump off the ballot in New Hampshire and Minnesota have failed.

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Also on Wednesday, Mr Trump’s lawyers urged Maine’s secretary of state to recuse herself from a 14th Amendment bid to kick Mr Trump off the ballot in that state. In Maine, ballot challenges are heard by the secretary of state at first instance, not the courts.

Mr Trump’s campaign have claimed that Shenna Bellows, a progressive Democrat, is biased against him. Citing tweets she sent in the aftermath of the 2021 Capitol riot, they claimed she had “already passed judgment on the Challengers’ core assertions”.

Ms Bellows is expected to issue her ruling in the coming days

 

credit: bbc.com

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