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Trump Survives Insurrection Clause Challenge in Minnesota

The chief justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court said the selection of a nominee – even an ineligible nominee – is up to the party, keeping Trump on the GOP primary ballot.

Former President Donald Trump attends the Republican Party of Florida Freedom Summit on Nov. 4, 2023, in Kissimmee, Fla. (PHELAN M. EBENHACK/AP)

Former President Donald Trump can appear on the primary ballot in Minnesota next year, a court ruled Wednesday, batting back a legal attempt to have him removed from voter consideration on the grounds that he is an insurrectionist constitutionally barred from holding office.

Writing for the state Supreme Court, Chief Justice Natalie E. Hudson said that while it is indeed up to the secretary of state and elections officials to handle the mechanics of the election, the selection of a nominee itself is up to the party.

“Winning the presidential nomination primary does not place the person on the general election ballot as a candidate for President of the United States,” Hudson wrote.

While Hudson did not dismiss the idea that Trump could be determined ineligible to appear on the general election ballot, she said it was not up to state elections officials to keep the Republican Party from presenting Trump as an option for its own primary voters.

“There is no state statute that prohibits a major political party from placing on the presidential nomination primary ballot, or sending delegates to the national convention supporting a candidate who is ineligible to hold office,” Hudson wrote.

Aside from Minnesota, lawsuits have been filed in Colorado, Michigan, Arizona, New Hampshire and New Jersey to deny Trump a place on the ballot pursuant to a clause in the 14th Amendment of the Constitution.

That provision, known as the insurrection clause, says that no one can hold office who has previously taken an oath to support the Constitution but then engaged in an insurrection or provided help to enemies of the United States.

Proponents of the idea – including such conservatives as retired federal Judge J. Michael Luttig – argue that Trump’s role in the Jan, 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol renders him ineligible to hold the presidency again.

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Far from denying voters a choice in a democracy, “it’s the conduct that can result in disqualification under the 14th Amendment that the Constitution says is anti-democratic,” Luttig said in an interview with MSNBC last week.

But even if the Constitution indeed prevents Trump from serving, it cannot stop Minnesota Republicans from engaging in their own, internal nominating process, Hudson wrote.

The “road for any candidate’s access to the ballot for Minnesota’s presidential nomination primary runs only through the participating political parties, who alone determine which candidates will be on the party’s ballot,” she wrote, citing an earlier ruling.

Trump praised the ruling on his social media site. “Congratulations to all who fought this HOAX!” the former president wrote. His campaign, in a statement, said the ruling is a “further validation of the Trump Campaign’s consistent argument that the 14th Amendment ballot challenges are nothing more than strategic, un-Constitutional attempts to interfere with the election by desperate Democrats who see the writing on the wall.”

“President Trump is dominating the polls and has never been in a stronger position to end the failed Biden presidency next November,” campaign spokesman Steven Cheung said.

Trump is fighting four separate indictments, including 91 felony counts. It is not necessary for Trump to be convicted of any of those crimes for a court to determine he is an insurrectionist and thus ineligible to serve, proponents of the 14th Amendment, litigants in the lawsuits say.

A judge in Colorado held a hearing on the insurrection clause case last week, and a Michigan judge is hearing arguments Thursday.

Absentee voting for the Minnesota primary begins Jan. 19.

Source: US News