Michigan Judge Rules In Favor Of Trump’s Primary Ballot Inclusion

A Michigan judge has upheld former President Donald Trump’s right to appear on the primary ballot despite efforts to get Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson to exclude him.

Michigan Court of Claims Judge James Robert Redford based his decision on a key principle of Michigan law, which affirms that it is not in the secretary of state’s place to interfere in a primary election when a political party chooses to list a candidate who might not meet all the qualifications for the office.

“The ultimate decision is made by the respective political party, with the consent of the listed candidate,” Redford wrote.

This verdict comes at a time when similar endeavors are being pursued in various states to ride on the Fourteenth Amendment as a means to prevent Trump from appearing on the ballot.

A group of Michigan voters had filed a lawsuit, contending that Trump’s actions related to the 2020 election and his involvement in the events of Jan.6, 2021, violated Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, commonly referred to as the “Insurrection Clause,” rendering him ineligible for office.

It is worth noting that this clause was originally aimed at preventing former Confederates from holding positions in the U.S. government, as Trump’s legal team has pointed out. According to the attorneys, the clause is irrelevant in this case as the presidency is not among the positions mentioned in the amendment.

Trump’s lawyers also argue that the events at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, don’t count as an insurrection, even as they maintain that the former president bears no responsibility for those events.

Redford, in his ruling, stated that it is the responsibility of Congress to determine whether Trump’s actions that day disqualify him from being listed on the ballot. He emphasized Congress’s broader “proactive” authority in applying Section 3 and noted that Section 5 of the 14th Amendment empowers Congress to enforce its provisions through appropriate legislation.

As of now, Congress has not officially declared Trump guilty of an “act of insurrection.” Despite impeachment efforts in the House relating to the Capitol event, Trump was acquitted by the Senate after failing to reach the required two-thirds majority for conviction.

This ruling in Michigan represents another victory for Trump, following a recent decision by the Minnesota Supreme Court, which dismissed a similar legal effort to prevent him from appearing on the state’s primary ballot in 2024.

However, it might not be the end of the case. While Benson acknowledged her lack of authority to exclude Trump from the ballot and included his name among the candidates for the state’s primaries in a list she released on Monday, the plaintiffs in the case have said they intend to appeal the judge’s decision.