POLITICS + GOVERNMENT

Michigan Supreme Court rejects ‘insurrectionist ban’ case and keeps Trump on 2024 primary ballot

Dec 27, 2023, 7:41 AM

The Michigan Supreme Court has rejected an attempt to remove former President Donald Trump from the...

The Michigan Supreme Court has rejected an attempt to remove former President Donald Trump from the 2024 ballot based on the US Constitution’s “insurrectionist ban.” (Carlos Osorio/AP/FILE)

(Carlos Osorio/AP/FILE)

Washington (CNN) — The Michigan Supreme Court has rejected an attempt to remove former President Donald Trump from the 2024 ballot based on the US Constitution’s “insurrectionist ban.”

The outcome, which was generally expected, contrasts with the recent ruling from the Colorado Supreme Court, which kicked Trump off its primary ballot because of his role in the January 6 Capitol riot. That decision has been paused pending an appeal.

With these dueling decisions, the expected appeals to the US Supreme Court become even more critical, especially as the nation races toward the start of the 2024 primaries. Unlike in Colorado, the Michigan lawsuit never reached a trial and was dismissed early on in the process. An intermediate appeals court upheld the decision to toss the case on procedural grounds.

The Michigan Court of Claims judge who first got the case said state law doesn’t give election officials any leeway to police the eligibility of presidential primary candidates. He also said the case raised a political question that shouldn’t be decided in the courts.

His decision was upheld by the Michigan Court of Appeals, which said: “At the moment, the only event about to occur is the presidential primary election. But as explained, whether Trump is disqualified is irrelevant to his placement on that particular ballot.”

The order from the Michigan Supreme Court was unsigned, and the court did not release a vote count.

Unlike in Colorado, the Michigan courts rejected the case wholly on procedural grounds. They never reached the questions of whether January 6 was an insurrection and whether Trump engaged in it.

One of the Michigan justices on Wednesday wrote why Michigan is different from Colorado.

The anti-Trump challengers “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,” Justice Elizabeth Welch wrote, comparing Michigan law to Colorado’s election code.

Ratified after the Civil War, the 14th Amendment says officials who take an oath to support the Constitution are banned from future office if they “engaged in insurrection.” The provision was used to disqualify thousands of ex-Confederates. But it has only been applied twice since 1919, and the vague wording doesn’t mention the presidency.

The Michigan lawsuit was filed in September by an advocacy organization, Free Speech For People, on behalf of a group of voters. It also pursued an unsuccessful 14th Amendment challenge against Trump in Minnesota, and recently filed a new case in Oregon. The Colorado lawsuit was initiated by a separate liberal-leaning group.

This story has been updated with additional details and background information.

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Michigan Supreme Court rejects ‘insurrectionist ban’ case and keeps Trump on 2024 primary ballot