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Should Trump be on ballot? Benson seeks ruling for ‘good of our democracy’

trump speaking into the microphone
(File photo)
  • Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson asks U.S. Supreme Court to decide ballot eligibility for Donald Trump
  • The former president is appealing a decision in Colorado, where justices voted to keep him off ballot for violating constitutional insurrection clause
  • Michigan Republicans argue voters should decide Trump’s political future, not courts or state election officials

LANSING — Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson is asking the U.S. Supreme Court for a thorough and decisive ruling on whether Donald Trump is qualified to appear on presidential election ballots this year. 

With Colorado judges already deciding to keep Trump off the ballot in that state, a high court ruling “is necessary to avoid confusion and uncertainty in the election process,” attorneys for Benson wrote in a legal brief filed Thursday. 


Colorado justices last month ruled the former president violated an insurrection clause of the U.S. Constitution by encouraging Capitol riots in an attempt to overturn his 2020 election loss to Democrat Joe Biden. 


Trump “incited and encouraged the use of violence and lawless action to disrupt the peaceful transfer of power,” and therefore is disqualified from returning to office under the 14th Amendment, the Colorado court ruled

Trump appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, where a potential ruling could have major implications for Michigan and other states as Trump leads polls of the GOP presidential field, setting up a potential rematch with Biden this fall. 

The former president will be on the ballot for Michigan’s Feb. 27 primary after the state Supreme Court last month rejected a lawsuit similar to Colorado’s. Clerks have already begun sending voters absentee ballots that include Trump’s name.

But Michigan justices did not weigh in on the merits – whether Trump committed insurrection – and plaintiffs said they may renew their legal challenge to try and keep Trump off the general election ballot should he win the GOP nomination.

“In other words, the State of Michigan and Secretary Benson could still be the targets of renewed efforts to disqualify the former president,” attorneys for Benson said Thursday in the U.S. Supreme Court filing.

As such, "full and complete resolution” of arguments over the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution “is necessary to avoid confusion and uncertainty in the election process,” Benson’s attorneys continued. 

Benson, a Democrat who is the state’s top election officer, “takes no position in this brief as to how these legal issues should be resolved, but for the good of our democracy, the Court should resolve them now,” lawyers said on her behalf.

Trump too is asking the nation’s highest court to weigh in. His attorneys on Thursday urged justices – including three he appointed as president – to “put a swift and decisive end” to lawsuits arguing he is ineligible to serve.

The ballot-disqualification efforts “threaten to disenfranchise tens of millions of Americans” and “promise to unleash chaos and bedlam if other state courts and state officials follow Colorado’s lead,” Trump’s attorneys wrote in a filing. 


In separate filings, Republican officials across the country agreed. And so did Peter Meijer, a former Congressman who voted to impeach Trump over the Jan. 6 riots and is now running in the Michigan GOP primary for U.S. Senate.

The decision to keep Trump off Colorado ballots was “an affront to the very democracy it purports to protect,” attorneys for Meijer wrote. “The United States Constitution and democratic process should prioritize the will of the voters — not judges and partisan Secretaries of State.”

All six Michigan Republicans currently serving in Congress also weighed in. They joined a pro-Trump legal brief spearheaded by U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and House Majority Leader Steve Scalise of Louisiana. 

Only Congress can decide how to enforce the 14th Amendment's insurrection clause, attorneys for the lawmakers wrote, and it is "critical" the nations' highest court "minimize the partisan incentive to boot opponents off the ballot.”

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