Activist files legal challenge to disqualify Trump from 2024 presidential race in Michigan

By: - August 29, 2023 8:46 am

U.S. President Donald Trump participates in the first presidential debate against Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden at the Health Education Campus of Case Western Reserve University on September 29, 2020 in Cleveland, Ohio. Win McNamee/Getty Images)

A Highland Park resident filing a legal challenge Monday aimed at disqualifying Donald Trump from the 2024 primary and general election ballots in Michigan, claiming the former president is ineligible to serve another term because he had engaged in an insurrection or rebellion against the U.S.

Robert Davis, who has frequently filed lawsuits against public officials, is urging Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson to declare that under the U.S. Constitution’s 14th Amendment, Trump is prohibited from appearing on the ballot next year.

The 14th Amendment is a Civil War-era addition to the Constitution. Section 3 of the amendment prevents those who “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” against the U.S. from holding office.

Davis argues that Trump’s role in the Jan. 6, 2021, riot, his repeated attempts to overturn the election, and his continued financial support for people charged in the U.S. Capitol attack amount to engaging in an insurrection or rebellion.

“It is quite clear that not only did he engage in an insurrection, but he also aided and comforted those who either pled guilty or are currently charged in the insurrection, irrespective of his conduct on Jan. 6 and his attempt to overturn the election in Michigan and elsewhere,” Davis told the Metro Times.

In the challenge, Davis points out that Trump attended a fundraising dinner for Jan. 6 defendants at his Bedminster, N.J., golf club this month.

“Trump’s financial support of those individuals criminally charged in the January 6, 2023, attack on the U.S. Capitol is further evidence of Trump’s ‘aid’ and ‘comfort’ of individuals who have been deemed ‘enemies’ of the United States,” Davis wrote.

Davis’s request is one of the first in the U.S. to challenge the legality of Trump’s 2024 campaign. On Thursday, a tax attorney in Palm Beach County filed a challenge in Florida, also arguing that the 14th Amendment prevents Trump from running.

Legal scholars, including some conservative attorneys, have argued that the 14th Amendment would disqualify Trump from running for another term. In Davis’s challenge, he points to a forthcoming University of Pennsylvania Law Review article by two members of the conservative Federalist Society, William Baude and Michael Stokes, who concluded that the 14th Amendment bars Trump from running.

“If the public record is accurate, the case is not even close. He is no longer eligible to the office of Presidency,” the article states.

In an Aug. 19 article in The Atlantic, J. Michael Luttig, a conservative former judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals, and Laurence Tribe, a liberal law professor, endorsed the position advanced by Baude and Paulsen, saying Trump’s attempts to overturn the election “place him squarely within the ambit of the disqualification clause.”

“The disqualification clause operates independently of any such criminal proceedings and, indeed, also independently of impeachment proceedings and of congressional legislation,” they wrote. “The clause was designed to operate directly and immediately upon those who betray their oaths to the Constitution, whether by taking up arms to overturn our government or by waging war on our government by attempting to overturn a presidential election through a bloodless coup.”

Citing the 14th Amendment, a federal judge in New Mexico prevented Otero County Commission and “Cowboys for Trump” founder Couy Griffin from serving last year after he was convicted of a misdemeanor for his role in the Jan. 6 riot. The judge described the events of Jan. 6 as an “insurrection.”

Last month, a grand jury in Georgia indicted Trump for his alleged efforts to overturn the election.

Davis said Benson “now has a legal obligation to address the merits” of his challenge so that there “is ample time for these questions to be adjudicated through the court.”

“It’s an important legal question on both sides that needs to be addressed promptly so it won’t cast a dark cloud over the presidential primaries and the subsequent election in November 2024,” Davis said. “This needs to be resolved quickly and promptly.”

Davis is asking Benson to make a decision within 14 days.

Davis was the only citizen permitted to intervene in a federal case that sought to impose sanctions against a team of lawyers who tried to overturn the 2020 election in Michigan. The case was successful, leading to a judge slapping the pro-Trump lawyers with sanctions in August 2021.

A version of this story first ran in the Detroit Metro Times. Follow them: Google News | NewsBreak | Reddit | Instagram | Facebook Twitter

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

Steve Neavling
Steve Neavling

Steve Neavling is an award-winning investigative journalist with the Detroit Metro Times. He operated Motor City Muckraker, an online news site devoted to exposing abuses of power and holding public officials accountable. Neavling also hosted Muckraker Report on 910AM from September 2017 to July 2018. Before launching Motor City Muckraker, Neavling was a five-year veteran of the Detroit Free Press, covering Detroit’s city hall.