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A state judge in Michigan has issued a ruling in a lawsuit aimed at preventing former President Donald Trump from appearing on the 2024 ballot under a Civil War-era provision in the U.S. Constitution.
“Court of Claims Judge James Redford rejected arguments that Trump’s role in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol meant the court had to declare him ineligible for the presidency. Redford wrote that, because Trump followed state law in qualifying for the primary ballot, he cannot remove the former president,” The Associated Press reported Tuesday following the ruling, the second in a week that turned away lawsuits seeking to bar Trump from ballots under the insurrection provision of the 14th Amendment.
What’s more, Redford ruled that it should be up to Congress to decide whether Trump should be disqualified from elected office under the amendment’s provision barring anyone who “engaged in insurrection.”
Redford said deciding whether an event constituted “a rebellion or insurrection and whether or not someone participated in it” are questions that are best left to Congress and not “one single judicial officer.”
Continuing, he wrote that a judge “cannot in any manner or form possibly embody the represented qualities of every citizen of the nation — as does the House of Representatives and the Senate.”
The AP noted that Free Speech For People, “a liberal group that has brought 14th Amendment cases in a number of states, said it will immediately appeal the ruling to the Michigan Court of Appeals.”
Following the decision, Ron Fein, the legal director of Free Speech For People, stated: “We are dissatisfied with the trial court’s decision and we are appealing it right away.”
Trump campaign spokesman Steven Cheung responded by ticking off several other unsuccessful attempts to keep the former president off the ballot under the provision.
“Each and every one of these ridiculous cases have LOST because they are all un-Constitutional left-wing fantasies orchestrated by monied allies of the Biden campaign seeking to turn the election over to the courts and deny the American people the right to choose their next president,” Cheung said, per the AP, which added:
Left-learning groups have filed similar lawsuits in other states seeking to bar Trump from the ballot, portraying him as inciting the Jan. 6 attack, which was intended to stop Congress from certifying Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential election win.
The two-sentence clause in the 14th Amendment has been used only a handful of times since the years after the Civil War. It’s likely that one of the active cases eventually will be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which has never ruled on the insurrection clause.
Last week, a state judge in Minnesota ruled that Trump can appear on the ballot, turning away an identical challenge to his qualifications. And a state court in Colorado is expected to rule on another case by Friday.
Late last month, in a 24-page ruling, “Colorado District Judge Sarah Wallace rejected Trump’s argument that matters of ballot eligibility are limited to Congress, not the courts,” The Hill reported, adding: “Wallace also opposed Trump’s argument that state election officials cannot invoke Section 3 of the 14th Amendment.”
Wallace wrote: “The Court holds that states can, and have, applied Section 3 pursuant to state statutes without federal enforcement legislation.”
At issue is a lawsuit that invokes a section of the Civil War-era 14th Amendment that bars Americans from holding elected office who “engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the United States.”
Wallace’s ruling came ahead of a trial that began Oct. 30.
Importantly, Trump has not been charged with, or convicted of, “insurrection.”
The former president’s political enemies have seized upon the term to describe a riot that occurred at the Capitol building that day following a “Stop the Steal” speech by Trump in Washington, D.C., during which he advised supporters to “peacefully” march to the building to demonstrate as lawmakers inside were preparing to certify the November 2020 election for Joe Biden.