Advance Notice: Briefs

Citing the 14th amendment, group files lawsuit filed to keep Trump off Michigan 2024 ballot

By: - October 2, 2023 8:27 am

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a rally at UW Milwaukee’s Panther Arena. Trump, who is the third president to face impeached, now faces an impending trial in the Senate. | Joshua Lott/Getty Images

A nonprofit organization and veteran attorney Mark Brewer on Friday filed a lawsuit in state court to bar GOP former President Donald Trump from appearing on Michigan’s presidential primary and general election ballots in 2024. 

In the complaint, Free Speech For People and the former Michigan Democratic Party chair argue that Trump is disqualified from holding public office under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment for his role in “inciting and facilitating” the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, just after the November 2020 general election in which President Joe Biden defeated Trump.

Enacted in the wake of the Civil War, Section 3 of the 14th Amendment disqualifies from public office any individual who has taken an oath to uphold the U.S. Constitution but then engages in insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or gives aid or comfort to its enemies. No prior criminal conviction is required. 

“Trump’s involvement in the violent attack on Congress to prevent the certification of election results, which resulted in the disruption of the peaceful transfer of power for the first time in our nation’s history, disqualifies him from holding any future public office,” their press statement reads. “State election officials do not need permission from Congress to enforce the Insurrectionist Disqualification Clause, just as they do not need congressional approval to enforce the U.S. Constitution in general.”

Ron Fein, Free Speech For People legal director, said Trump who is a 2024 presidential candidate “violated his oath of office and incited a violent insurrection.”

“Our predecessors understood that oath-breaking insurrectionists will do it again, and worse, if allowed back into power, so they enacted the Insurrectionist Disqualification Clause to protect the republic from people like Trump. Trump is legally barred from the ballot and election officials must follow this constitutional mandate.”

Pro-Trump protesters gather in front of the U.S. Capitol Building on January 6, 2021 in Washington, DC during the insurrection. | Brent Stirton/Getty Images

Brewer, an election lawyer and former Michigan Democratic Party chair, added that “the United States Constitution makes Donald Trump ineligible to run for or serve in any public office in the country, let alone president.” 

“All Michigan voters, including the plaintiffs, have a well-established right to have only eligible candidates on the ballot,” Brewer said. 

Similar suits have been filed in Colorado and Minnesota.

A new poll from Politico/Morning Consult found that 51% of voters think the 14th Amendment prohibits Trump from running again because he engaged in insurrection, while 34% said it doesn’t.

Robert Davis, a Detroit activist who frequently files lawsuits against public entities, last month first filed a suit to toss Trump from the Michigan ballot under 14th amendment grounds.

That came after he appealed to Democratic Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, who  declined to kick Trump off the 2024 ballot in Michigan. She said she doesn’t have the authority to do so, even if the former president violated the U.S. Constitution’s 14th Amendment, as that was a matter for the courts.


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Ken Coleman
Ken Coleman

Ken Coleman writes about Southeast Michigan, history and civil rights. He is a former Michigan Chronicle senior editor and served as the American Black Journal segment host on Detroit Public Television. He has written and published four books on Black life in Detroit.