Explaining Michigan’s Supreme Court ruling: Why Trump stays on the primary ballot


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Former President Donald Trump will remain on Michigan’s primary ballot, following a ruling on Wednesday by the state’s Supreme Court.

What does the ruling mean? John Clark, professor of political science at Western Michigan University, explains:

“This ruling doesn’t say that Donald Trump shouldn’t be president, it doesn’t say he did or did not commit any sort of crime. It simply says that, under Michigan law, the Secretary of State doesn’t have any authority to remove candidates,” he said.

The state’s highest court said Wednesday it will not hear an appeal of a lower court’s ruling from groups seeking to keep Trump from appearing on the ballot.

It said in an order that the application by parties to appeal a Dec. 14 Michigan appeals court judgment was considered, but denied “because we are not persuaded that the questions presented should be reviewed by this court.”

“In the longer run, I suspect the United States Supreme Court, at some point, is going to need to weigh in so that we can avoid kind of a patchwork of some states doing some things and other states doing other things,” Clark said.

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson released a statement following the ruling, saying “I am keenly aware of the responsibility I bear in reassuring voters that our democracy is secure, fair and accessible, and that election results are an accurate reflection of their will.”

She continued, “We clearly stated months ago that, when it comes to ballot access for candidates in a presidential primary, my authority is limited to ensuring that any individuals ‘generally advocated by the national news media to be potential presidential candidates,’ along with any recommended by state political parties, qualify to be on the ballot. We followed that law, and I am gratified our state Supreme Court and all lower courts have affirmed that approach.”

In Michigan, only candidates can remove themselves from the ballot, according to Clark.

However, the Colorado Supreme Court just recently reached a decision that found Trump ineligible to be president because of his role in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.

That ruling was the first time in history that Section 3 of the 14th Amendment has been used to disqualify a presidential candidate.

“Well, I think the Colorado case is special because Colorado’s laws governing ballot access are different from Michigan’s laws and so in Colorado, there was a provision in law that the State Supreme Court found did allow for former president Trump to be removed from the primary ballot. That provision doesn’t exist in Michigan,” Clark said.

The Colorado ruling is likely to be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which has never ruled on the rarely used Civil War-era provision.

Explaining Michigan’s Supreme Court ruling: Why Trump stays on the primary ballot

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