The Michigan Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected a petition to disqualify former President Donald Trump from the state’s 2024 presidential primary ballot, citing the lack of authority and jurisdiction to decide the matter.
Petitioners invoked the 14th Amendment
The petition was filed by Free Speech for People, a nonprofit organization that advocates for democracy and constitutional rights, on behalf of a group of Michigan voters. The petitioners argued that Trump should be barred from running for federal office under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, which states that no person who has engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or given aid or comfort to its enemies, shall hold any office under the United States.
The petitioners claimed that Trump’s actions before, during, and after the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol constituted insurrection and rebellion, and that he gave aid and comfort to the domestic terrorists who stormed the building. They also alleged that Trump violated his oath of office and betrayed the public trust by attempting to overturn the 2020 election results in Michigan and other states.
Lower courts dismissed the petition
The petition was first filed in the Michigan Court of Claims, which dismissed it on Nov. 16, 2023, ruling that the secretary of state had no authority to remove a candidate from the primary ballot based on their eligibility for the office. The court also said that the petition was not ripe for judicial review, as the primary election was still more than a year away and the general election was more than two years away.
The petitioners appealed to the Michigan Court of Appeals, which affirmed the lower court’s decision on Dec. 14, 2023, in a unanimous opinion. The appeals court said that the petition was not an actual controversy, as the only event about to occur was the presidential primary election, and that whether Trump was disqualified was irrelevant to his placement on that ballot. The court also said that it would be improper to decide whether to grant a declaration that Trump was disqualified from holding the office of president at this time, and that it was the proper role of Congress to decide the question.
Supreme Court denied leave to appeal
The petitioners then sought leave to appeal to the Michigan Supreme Court, asking for an expedited consideration and a decision by Dec. 1, 2023. They argued that the lower courts erred in dismissing their petition and that the issue was of great public importance and urgency, as the ballots for the presidential primary election had to be finalized and printed soon.
However, the Michigan Supreme Court denied the petitioners’ request on Dec. 28, 2023, in a brief order. The court said that it was not persuaded that the questions presented should be reviewed by the court, and that the petitioners had not shown that the delay in the final adjudication of their claims would cause irreparable harm.
Trump’s campaign celebrated the ruling
Trump’s campaign spokesperson Steven Cheung issued a statement on Tuesday, celebrating the ruling and criticizing the petitioners. He said that the petition was a “desperate attempt” by the “Soros-funded Democrats” to interfere in the election via a “bad-faith interpretation” of the 14th Amendment. He also said that Trump remained undefeated against these “frivolous legal claims” and had never been in a stronger position to win the 2024 election.
The petition was one of several lawsuits filed across the country by individuals and groups seeking to invoke the 14th Amendment to disqualify Trump from running for president again. Most of these lawsuits have been dismissed or rejected by the courts, while some are still pending. The U.S. Supreme Court has not yet ruled on the applicability of the 14th Amendment to Trump’s case.