US: Michigan Supreme Court rejects ‘insurrectionist ban’ against Trump, keeps him on 2024 ballot

Image Source : AP US President Donald Trump

Michigan Supreme Court on Wednesday declined to hear a plea seeking to disqualify former US President Donald Trump from the state’s primary ballot for the 2024 presidential elections, in a victory for the 77-year-old’s chances of contesting for a return to the White House.

The court said that it would not hear an appeal from four voters in the state seeking to bar the former president from the primary votes scheduled on February 27, citing the ‘insurrectionist ban’ case that is connected with his alleged involvement in the attack on the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, after Trump was defeated by Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential elections.

The voters argued that Trump, the Republican frontrunner for the 2024 polls, could not serve as president under a provision in the US Constitution that bars people from holding office if they engaged in “insurrection or rebellion” after swearing an oath to the US. The justices in the Michigan Supreme Court replied, “We are not persuaded that the questions presented should be reviewed by this Court.”

The development stands in stark contrast to the Colorado Supreme Court’s decision to disqualify Trump from the ballot in the state’s presidential election next year over his role in the Capitol attack. That ruling was the first time in history that Section 3 of the 14th Amendment has been used to disqualify a presidential candidate.

The court concluded that the US Constitution bars the frontrunner for the Republican nomination in 2024 from appearing on the ballot because of his role in instigating violence against the US government. “A majority of the court holds that Trump is disqualified from holding the office of president under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment,” the court wrote in its 4-3 decision.

What did Trump say?

Reacting to the Michigan court’s decision on his Truth Social platform, Trump said that the court “strongly and rightfully denied” what he called a “desperate Democrat attempt” to take him off the ballot in Michigan.

Meanwhile, a lawyer representing the voters said that the ruling was procedural and the court allowed them to revive the case for the November 2024 elections. “The Court’s decision is disappointing but we will continue, at a later stage, to seek to uphold this critical constitutional provision designed to protect our republic,” said attorney Mark Brewer.

The Michigan and Colorado cases are among dozens hoping to keep Trump’s name off state ballots, pointing to the insurrection clause that bars anyone from holding office. Until the Colorado ruling, all attempts to bar Trump from state ballots have failed.

The Colorado ruling is likely to be appealed to the US Supreme Court, which has never ruled on the rarely used Civil War-era provision. Trump has vowed to appeal the Colorado ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court, which can resolve the issue of his eligibility in the state to run for the presidential race.

What can the lawyers do?

The plaintiffs in Michigan can technically try again to disqualify Trump under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment in the general election, though it’s likely there will be a US Supreme Court ruling on the issue by then. 

“We are disappointed by the Michigan Supreme Court’s decision. The ruling conflicts with longstanding US Supreme Court precedent that makes clear that when political parties use the election machinery of the state to select, via the primary process, their candidates for the general election, they must comply with all constitutional requirements in that process,” said on Fein, legal director of Free Speech for People, the liberal group that filed the suit to disqualify Trump in the state.

Trump allegedly pressed two election officials in Michigan’s Wayne County not to certify 2020 vote totals, according to a recording of a post-election phone call disclosed in December. The former President’s campaign has not commented on the legitimacy of the recorded call.

Trump’s chances in 2024

Trump faces two federal cases, including one accusing him of unlawfully attempting to reverse his 2020 election loss to Democrat Joe Biden and another over his handling of classified documents upon leaving office. He has also been indicted in New York state court for hush money payments paid to a porn star ahead of his 2016 election win and in Georgia over his efforts to overturn the 2020 election.

However, his position as a Republican frontrunner remains dominant. A Reuters/Ipsos poll in early December found that 52 per cent of self-identified Republican voters would vote for Trump even if he were convicted of a felony by a jury, and 46% would vote for him if he were serving time in prison.

He has not been charged with insurrection as of yet, and with the Michigan ruling that upheld the role of Congress in deciding his candidacy, Trump is all but set to enter the electoral fray as the most-favoured candidate over the likes of others like Ron DeSantis or Nikki Haley.

(with inputs from agencies)

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