Michigan judge rejects “insurrection” argument, lets Trump stay on state’s ballot

November 15, 2023

Michigan Court of Claims Judge James Redford ruled Tuesday that former President Trump can remain on the state’s 2024 ballot as he runs for reelection to the White House. 

Redford rejected plaintiffs’ arguments that Trump was ineligible for office, based on the “insurrection clause” in the 14th Amendment, due to the then-President’s actions surrounding the deadly January 6, 2021 insurrection on the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to stop the certification of now-President Biden’s 2020 election victory. 

The 14th Amendment says that any American official who has taken an oath to uphold the U.S. Constitution is disqualified from holding office if they engaged in “insurrection or rebellion” or they’ve “given aid or comfort” to anyone else who has. The Amendment was established following the Civil War.

The Michigan ruling was the second such victory for Trump in less than a week. Last Wednesday, Minnesota’s state Supreme Court on Wednesday declined to apply the 14th Amendment to prevent Trump from running on that state’s 2024 ballot. 

Similar suits have been filed in roughly a half-dozen states, and the question of whether Trump is Constitutionally eligible to potentially hold office again may ultimately be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The issue of the 14th amendment entered the national debate in August after two renowned legal scholars on opposite sides of the political spectrum raised the Constitutional argument: liberal Harvard Law professor emeritus Laurence Tribe and conservative retired federal judge Michael Luttig.

Luttig has noted that the 14th Amendment’s section 3 “functions as a sort of constitutional immune system” meant to “keep those who have fundamentally betrayed the constitutional order from keeping or resuming power.”

Trump has said numerous times that if he wins reelection, he would pardon those convicted of crimes linked to January 6.

However, Tribe has recently said that it’s “an error” to focus on January 6, for which Trump has denied any responsibility, when questioning his eligibility to be President again.

“It’s what he ADMITS—ATTEMPTING TO STAY IN POWER AFTER OFFICIALLY LOSING  THE ELECTION—that DEFINES ‘insurrection against the Constitution of the United States,'” Tribe explained on social media earlier this month.

In another thread Tribe elaborated, writing that “what Trump tried to do by holding onto the presidency by any means possible, from fake electoral slates to pressuring Pence to reject lawfully certified slates to fomenting violence on Jan 6, amounted to a classic case of a failed coup against the Constitution itself and not just an attempt to overthrow an agency of the government…Trump sought to seize the government for himself rather than to dismantle it, a distinction without a difference when it comes to the text and purpose of the Disqualification Clause of the 14th Amendment…”

In Michigan, attorney Mark Brewer said in a statement that he and his co-counsel will appeal Tuesday’s ruling in order to “uphold this critical constitutional provision designed to protect our republic.”

Following the Minnesota ruling last week, Trump wrote on his Truth Social platform, “Ridiculous 14th Amendment lawsuit just thrown out by Minnesota Supreme Court.” He added, “Congratulations to all who fought this HOAX!”

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