Trump election: Michigan supreme court rejects ballot disqualification bid

Source: BBC 

Michigan’s Supreme Court has refused to hear an appeal by voters in the US state to disqualify Donald Trump from next year’s presidential primary.

They sought to invoke a clause in the US Constitution, barring anyone who has engaged in insurrection, over Mr Trump’s role in the 2021 Capitol riots.

The decision comes days after Colorado became the first state to rule that Mr Trump was not an eligible candidate.

Michigan is considered a battleground state in the 2024 general election.

Traditionally voting Democrat, Michigan narrowly supported Mr Trump, a Republican, in his successful 2016 presidential campaign. But the state reverted to the Democrats when Joe Biden carried it by a margin of nearly 3% in 2020. 

Unlike in Colorado, the Michigan bid failed early on 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”.

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.

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. 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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