Michigan Supreme Court upholds Donald Trump’s 2024 primary candidacy amid legal woes

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Despite facing legal challenges in several states over his alleged involvement in the January 6 attack on the US Capitol, former president Donald Trump has secured his place on the Michigan state ballot for the 2024 presidential primary.

FILE - Former President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in Durham, (AP Photo/Reba Saldanha, File)(AP)
FILE – Former President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in Durham, (AP Photo/Reba Saldanha, File)(AP)

On Wednesday, the Michigan Supreme Court upheld a lower court order that rejected a lawsuit seeking to disqualify Trump from running for office again.

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The lawsuit, filed by a group called Free Speech for the People, argued that Trump violated section 3 of the US Constitution’s 14th amendment, which bars anyone who has “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” against the US government from holding any federal or state office. The group claimed that Trump incited the violent mob that stormed the Capitol in an attempt to overturn the 2020 election results.

However, the Michigan Supreme Court did not agree with the group’s interpretation of the 14th Amendment, which was enacted after the US Civil War to prevent former Confederate officials from returning to power.

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The court did not provide any explanation for its decision, simply stating that it was “not persuaded that the questions presented should be reviewed by this court”.

Trump’s eligibility under 14th Amendment challenged across multiple jurisdictions

The court’s ruling contrasted with that of the Colorado Supreme Court, which earlier this month decided to remove Trump from its state primary ballot based on the same constitutional provision. The Colorado court said that Trump’s actions on January 6 amounted to “insurrection or rebellion” and that he forfeited his eligibility to hold office. The Colorado decision is currently on hold pending further litigation.

According to Lawfare, a website that covers national security issues, more than a dozen states have similar lawsuits pending against Trump, aiming to enforce section 3 of the 14th Amendment. The outcome of these cases could have a significant impact on Trump’s political future, as he has hinted at running for president again in 2024.

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Ron Fein, the legal director of Free Speech for the People and one of the attorneys for the plaintiffs in the Michigan case, expressed disappointment with the court’s ruling, but vowed to continue the fight in other states.

“The decision isn’t binding on any court outside Michigan and we continue our current and planned legal actions in other states to enforce Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment against Donald Trump,” Fein said in a statement.

Trump celebrating Michigan court’s order

One of the dissenting justices in the Michigan case, Elizabeth Welch, suggested that the challengers could still pursue their case in the general election, if Trump becomes the Republican nominee or runs as an independent. Welch noted that there were procedural differences between the primary and the general election that could affect the application of section 3.

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Michigan is expected to be a key battleground state in the 2024 presidential election, as it was in 2016 and 2020. The state’s primary is scheduled for February 27, 2024.

Trump, who has been banned from most mainstream social media platforms, celebrated the Michigan court’s order on his own platform, Truth Social.

“The Michigan Supreme Court has strongly and rightfully denied the Desperate Democrat attempt to take the leading Candidate in the 2024 Presidential Election, me, off the ballot in the Great State of Michigan,” Trump wrote.

“We have to save our Country from decline and the Radical Left. Make America Great Again!”

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