A good government group spearheading a national effort to bar Donald Trump from the election next year moved to remove him from the ballot in Michigan, citing the Constitution’s Disqualification Clause.
It’s the first such action in a major swing state from a group with the know-how and resources to present a legitimate argument.
The petition, filed in Michigan’s Court of Claims, asks the court to make a finding that Trump’s efforts to reverse his loss in the 2020 election render him ineligible for office under the Disqualification Clause. The group is also asking the court to block Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson (D) from placing Trump the Republican primary ballot.
Free Speech for People, the non-profit which filed the suit, asked the Minnesota Supreme Court earlier this month to ban Trump from the ballot there as well.
It’s part of a national strategy to use the 14th Amendment’s Reconstruction-era ban on those who engaged in insurrection from holding office to block Trump from the 2024 ballot. Free Speech for People and CREW are, so far, the two main groups undertaking the effort. CREW filed suit in state court in Colorado this month seeking the same outcome there.
What Free Speech for People wants is twofold: an evidentiary hearing resulting in a declaration from a court that the Disqualification Clause bars Trump from running again, and a formal court order preventing him from appearing on the ballot.
In the Michigan case, Free Speech for People filed the suit in the state’s court of claims, a body composed of appellate judges which hears litigation brought against state agencies.
Talk of using the Disqualification Clause to bar Trump from the ballot reached a fever pitch earlier this month, leading several secretaries of state and chief election officers around the country to issue preliminary statements revealing their position on it.
Free Speech for People had sent a letter to Benson’s office in July asking her to block Trump from office over his attempt to stay in office after losing the 2020 race.
Instead, Benson wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post saying that it wasn’t up to her office, but rather the courts to answer the question of Trump’s eligibility.
“We will succeed again if the courts continue to serve as the proper forum for determining legal issues such as the one now before us — and if secretaries of state remain focused on their role as champions, and guardians, of the democratic process,” she wrote.
Free Speech for People said in the petition that Benson has the authority and “responsibility” to bar Trump.
“All Michigan voters, including the plaintiffs, have a well-established right to have only eligible candidates on the ballot,” Mark Brewer, a Michigan attorney who filed the case, said in a statement. “Since Secretary of State Benson has announced that Trump will be on the primary ballot unless a court orders otherwise, we are seeking a court order preventing Trump from being on the ballot.”