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Trump to stay on Michigan GOP ballot, state’s top court says

Former U.S. President and 2024 presidential hopeful Donald Trump applauds at the end of a campaign event in Waterloo, Iowa, on Dec. 19.  (Kamil Krzaczynski/AFP/Getty Images North America/TNS)
By Erik Larson Bloomberg News

The Michigan Supreme Court left intact a ruling allowing Donald Trump to stay on the state’s Republican primary ballot next year despite his role in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, one week after Colorado’s high court ruled he’s ineligible to serve.

A majority of the Michigan justices said in a one-paragraph order Wednesday that they were “not persuaded that the questions presented should be reviewed by this Court.” They denied a request by Trump opponents for permission to appeal a decision by a state appeals court earlier this month in favor of the former president.

None of the Michigan court decisions addressed whether Trump could appear on the state’s ballot for the 2024 general election.

A lower-court judge said Nov. 14 it was premature to decide whether a constitutional ban on insurrectionists holding public office could come into play in the November contest, but signaled he believes it’s a “political” question that Congress, and not the courts, should decide.

Trump has faced dozens of lawsuits across the country this year claiming he’s ineligible for another term in the White House under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment. The provision states that a person who took an oath to support the Constitution and then “engaged in insurrection” is ineligible to hold office again.

The former president, in a social media post Wednesday, called efforts to keep him off the ballot “a pathetic gambit to right the election.” He said, “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 faces a separate federal criminal prosecution over his role in the assault on the Capitol and his broader effort to overturn the 2020 election result. He denies wrongdoing and says the case is part of a political “witch hunt” against him.

Elizabeth Welch, one of the judges on the Michigan Supreme Court, issued a dissenting opinion Wednesday, saying the court should have reviewed more of the legal questions raised by the case.

“Considering the importance of the legal questions at issue and the speed with which the appellants and the judiciary have moved, I believe it is important for this Court to issue a decision on the merits,” Welch said.

The Michigan ruling comes after the Colorado Supreme Court issued an unprecedented decision on Dec. 19 that Trump could not appear on the state’s GOP primary ballot, kicking off a legal fight that’s headed for the U.S. Supreme Court, which will have the final say. The Colorado court was the first to say Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election results render him ineligible to run again.

Activists filed lawsuits in a number of other states, including Minnesota, Virginia and Oregon, seeking to keep Trump’s name off GOP primary ballots and, should he win the nomination, off the general election ballot. In November, the Minnesota Supreme Court dismissed such an effort in regard to the state’s presidential primary.