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A lawsuit to disqualify Trump under the Constitution's "insurrection" clause is filed in Michigan

sign for absentee ballot box
Jodi Westrick
Michigan Radio

A group of Republican and independent voters has filed a lawsuit to try to keep former President Donald Trump off the Michigan ballot.

The lawsuit says Trump is not eligible to appear on the state’s primary or general election ballots. Their claim is that Trump cannot appear because he violated the U.S. Constitution’s insurrection clause. Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson — a Democrat — says she cannot keep Trump off the ballot without a court order.

The progressive group Free Speech For People organized the lawsuit, and argued that Trump's attempt to overturn his 2020 election loss and encouragement of the January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol violated section three of the 14th Amendment, which holds that anyone who swore an oath to uphold the Constitution and then “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” against it is barred from holding office.

The case is the second the organization has filed to block the GOP presidential frontrunner's bid, following one in Minnesota.

Dozens of cases have been filed nationally but the Free Speech For People cases and one filed in Colorado by another liberal group are the first brought by organizations with significant legal resources.

Trump has dismissed the push to bar him from the ballot as “election interference” and his attorneys argued in the Colorado case that it violates his free speech rights.

Those are seen as most likely to reach the U.S. Supreme Court, which has never ruled on the provision.

Michigan is a particularly significant location for a challenge because it is both a swing state and its Democratic Secretary of State, Jocelyn Benson, wrote in The Washington Post earlier this month that she and other top election officers don't have the ability to bar Trump under the clause.

Section three has only been used a handful of times since the Civil War.

The Associated Press is an independent global news organization dedicated to factual reporting.
Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.
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