Political Speech

Michigan Court Declines to Immediately Hear Appeal on Allowing Trump on Primary Ballot

Former U.S. President Donald Trump holds a campaign rally in Houston
Republican presidential candidate and former U.S. President Donald Trump smiles at supporters during a campaign rally in Houston, Texas, Nov. 2, 2023. (Reuters/Callaghan O’Hare)

By The Associated Press

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The Michigan Supreme Court refused Wednesday to immediately hear an appeal of a lower court’s ruling that would allow former President Donald Trump’s name to be on the state’s presidential primary ballot.

The state Supreme Court said the case should remain before the state court of appeals, and not immediately move to Michigan’s highest court as a liberal group had requested.

The court said in its order that it “is not persuaded that the questions presented should be reviewed by this Court before consideration by the Court of Appeals.”

Dozens of cases hoping to keep Trump’s name off state ballots contend that his actions related to the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol ran afoul of a clause in the 14th Amendment that prevents anyone from holding office who “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” against the Constitution.

In Michigan, attorneys for a group of an activists asked the state Supreme Court on Nov. 16 for an “immediate and expedited consideration” for appeal and an “emergency application” to bypass the state Appeals Court.

They said in their filing it was a “virtual certainty” that any decision by the Court of Appeals would be appealed to the state Supreme Court. They argued that time was “of the essence” due to “the pressing need to finalize and print the ballots for the presidential primary election.”

The liberal group Free Speech for People — a nonprofit also behind a lawsuit seeking to keep Trump off Minnesota’s ballot — had sued to force Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson to bar Trump from Michigan’s ballot.

Court of Claims Judge James Redford rejected their arguments. Redford said in a Nov. 14 order that it was the proper role of Congress to decide the question.

Free Speech for People had asked the Michigan Supreme Court to send the case back to the Court of Claims to conduct an evidentiary hearing on Trump’s eligibility to be placed on the primary ballot.

Ron Fein, the group’s legal director, said in a statement that “while we are disappointed in this procedural order, we look forward to returning to the Michigan Supreme Court after completing proceedings in the Court of Appeals.”

The Court of Appeals will issue its ruling based on the legal briefs already submitted in the case, said Edward Erikson, a spokesperson for Free Speech For People.