Michigan Supreme Court court rejects bid to bar Donald Trump from 2024 ballot

Pro-Trump protesters storm into the US Capitol in Washington on January 6, 2021. File photo: Reuters

Trump, 77, hailed the Michigan decision, slamming a “Desperate Democrat attempt” to stack the deck against him as he seeks another term in the White House.

“This pathetic gambit to rig the Election has failed all across the Country, including in States that have historically leaned heavily toward the Democrats,” he posted on Truth Social, his social media platform.

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Colorado’s highest court issued a stay, or freeze, of its bombshell ruling until January 4 pending an expected appeal by Trump’s lawyers to the US Supreme Court.

Trump has been indicted in both a federal case and in Georgia for his role in trying to overturn the 2020 election but he has not been charged with insurrection related to the January 6 attack.

Granting the Colorado case for review would thrust the country’s top court into the centre of the White House race, as any determination it makes on whether Trump engaged in insurrection and on his eligibility could be binding on lower courts nationwide.

The Michigan lawsuit was filed in September by liberal-leaning Free Speech For People, a pro-democracy advocacy group that also pursued an unsuccessful 14th Amendment challenge against Trump in Minnesota and has filed a case in Oregon.

“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,” election lawyer Mark Brewer, who joined the group in the lawsuit, said in a statement.

“Trump led a rebellion and insurrection against the Constitution when he tried to overturn the 2020 presidential election and he is disqualified from ever seeking or holding public office again.”

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Michigan’s lower courts dismissed the case on procedural grounds early in the process, a decision upheld on appeal, meaning the question of whether Trump engaged in insurrection was never addressed.

Justice Elizabeth Welch, one of four Democratic-nominated justices on the seven-member panel, acknowledged the Colorado decision but said that state’s election law differed from Michigan’s “in a material way” in requiring candidates to be “qualified” to run.

“The appellants have identified no analogous provision in the Michigan Election Law that requires someone seeking the office of President of the United States to attest to their legal qualification to hold the office,” Welch wrote.

Meanwhile Maine’s top elections official, Secretary of State Shenna Bellows, is considering challenges to Trump’s eligibility for the March 5 primary in the Democratic-leaning northeastern state.

Trump’s legal team called Wednesday for Bellows to recuse herself, describing her in a statement as a “completely biased Democrat partisan and a Biden supporter who is incapable of making a fair decision”.

Secretary of state is an elected, political position in Maine, as it is in 34 other US states.

Additional reporting by Reuters

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