Minnesota Justices Consider Disqualifying Donald Trump From The Ballot – A court hearing that could prevent former president Donald Trump from running in 2024 began on Thursday, with Minnesota justices skeptical over whether it’s within their jurisdiction to bar a candidate from seeking election.
Minnesota is the second state to see a court hearing over Section Three of the 14th Amendment.
The post-Civil War legislation was introduced to prevent Confederates from taking public office but has been rarely used since.
Also known as the “Disqualification Clause”, the Constitution prevents any individual who has “engaged in an insurrection” against the United States from holding a public position.
The argument is in its infancy, having only emerged following an academic article by two conservative legal scholars in August.
However, an unusual mix of liberals and anti-Trump conservatives have pushed to disqualify Trump from the ballot, with lawsuits filed in Coloardo, Minnesota, and New Hampshire.
Suing The Allies
Technically, petitioners are suing Secretaries of State who are in a similar mindset.
Given the infrequency of Section Three’s use, many Democratic election officials have been reluctant to make a decision themselves, instead relying on rulings by state judges.
On Thursday, their wishes for a court ruling were somewhat diminished during an 80-minute hearing in Minnesota’s supreme court, the highest level of judiciary to hear the argument so far. “Should we do it? Even if we could do it and we can do it?” Chief Justice Natalie Hudson asked.
State justices expressed doubt over whether they can rule on the “political question” often avoided by courts. Justice Hudson warned of “chaos” if some states ruled to remove Trump from the ballot where others did not, indicating that it may be a suitable case for the highest arbiter in the land.
“That’s why we have a U.S. Supreme Court, which is where this probably should be decided,” Hudson said.
Ronald Fein, a lawyer for Free Speech for People, a nonprofit representing states voters who filed the Minnesota case, urged the court to only consider removing Trump from the Minnesota ballot “This is a case of extraordinary importance,” Fein said.
“Donald Trump engaged in rebellion and insurrection against the Constitution of the United States in a desperate attempt to remain in office after losing the election,” Fein continued, before adding that the relevant clause “protects the Republic from oath-breaking insurrectionists because its framers understood that if they’re allowed back into power, they will do the same or worse.”
Proponents argue that Trump’s involvement in the January 6 Capitol riots was sufficient to disqualify him from the ballot. A New Mexican rioter was removed from his county commissioner role last year, but a similar effort to bar Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene failed.
Trump’s attorney, Nick Nelson, argued there was no evidence that Trump engaged in an insurrection, adding that the Constitution does not provide states with the authority to make “binding legal rulings about who is eligible or not.”
“There is no more political question in our constitutional order than who should be president,” he said.
A ruling is expected prior to the filing of state ballots next year.
Shay Bottomley is a British journalist based in Canada. He has written for the Western Standard, Maidenhead Advertiser, Slough Express, Windsor Express, Berkshire Live and Southend Echo, and has covered notable events including the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.
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