A judge is set to hear arguments as Michigan activists try to keep Trump off the ballot

by Joshua Brown
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Trump Ballot Eligibility

A Michigan judge is poised to preside over a legal dispute involving activists who seek to prevent Donald Trump from appearing on the state’s presidential ballots. This case centers on the question of whether Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson possesses the authority to exclude Trump’s name from the presidential ballots and to evaluate his constitutional eligibility for a second presidential term. Concurrently, legal representatives for the former president are insisting that Trump’s name should be included on the 2024 Republican presidential primary ballot.

The scheduled proceedings were set to commence on Thursday morning in Grand Rapids before Judge James Robert Redford. Activists have filed two distinct lawsuits, invoking a section of the U.S. Constitution’s 14th Amendment, which disqualifies individuals from running for federal office if they have participated in insurrection or rebellion against the United States or provided support to those who have.

Furthermore, liberal groups have initiated legal actions in Colorado and Minnesota with the aim of preventing Trump’s inclusion on the ballot. They assert that he was the instigator of the January 6, 2021, assault on the U.S. Capitol, which sought to obstruct Congress from certifying Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential election. These groups reference a rarely employed constitutional provision that prohibits individuals who took an oath to uphold the Constitution but subsequently engaged in insurrection against it from holding office. This two-sentence clause within the 14th Amendment has seen limited utilization since the post-Civil War era.

However, the Minnesota Supreme Court recently dismissed a lawsuit that invoked this provision, specifying that its decision exclusively pertained to the state’s primary election. Free Speech For People, an organization representing the litigants before the Minnesota Supreme Court, is also involved in one of the Michigan cases against Secretary Benson.

Donald Trump remains a prominent contender for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination. In response to these legal challenges, Benson has stated in a filing that the Michigan Legislature has not conferred upon her the authority to determine whether a presidential candidate can be disqualified from the state’s ballot under the 14th Amendment or to evaluate a candidate’s constitutional qualifications for the presidency. She characterizes this as a “federal constitutional question of enormous consequence,” emphasizing that Michigan courts have historically ruled that administrative agencies lack the jurisdiction to address constitutional matters. Nevertheless, she has committed to adhering to the court’s guidance in this matter.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Trump Ballot Eligibility

What is the central issue in the legal battle mentioned in the text?

The central issue is whether Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson has the authority to exclude Donald Trump’s name from Michigan’s presidential ballots and assess his constitutional qualifications for a second presidential term.

Why are activists suing Secretary Benson?

Activists are suing to compel Secretary Benson to prevent Trump’s name from appearing on the state’s presidential ballots and to evaluate Trump’s constitutional eligibility based on the 14th Amendment.

What constitutional provision is being invoked by activists and liberal groups?

Activists and liberal groups are invoking the 14th Amendment, which disqualifies individuals from federal office if they have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the United States or aided those who have.

What is the significance of the Minnesota Supreme Court’s decision in this context?

The Minnesota Supreme Court’s decision pertains only to the state’s primary election and does not address the broader issue of Trump’s ballot eligibility in Michigan or other states.

How does Secretary Benson view her role in this matter?

Secretary Benson contends that she lacks the authority, as granted by the Michigan Legislature, to determine a presidential candidate’s disqualification under the 14th Amendment or assess their constitutional qualifications. She views this as a significant federal constitutional question.

What is the potential impact of this legal battle on Trump’s political future?

The outcome of this legal battle could impact Trump’s ability to run for president in Michigan and potentially other states. It is of particular significance as he is considered a leading candidate for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination.

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