Minnesota Supreme Court allows Trump on ballot for primary, delays decision on general election

November 10, 2023

Minnesota’s highest court ruled on Wednesday, November 8, that former President Donald Trump should be allowed to appear on the state’s presidential primary ballot next year—waving off for now an argument raised in an early test case that he had disqualified himself for a second term by attempting to overturn the 2020 election, reports USA Today.

The decision represents a partial victory for Trump—allowing him to stay on the ballot for the GOP primary. Minnesota may revisit the issue for the general election.

The court, in a four-page order, said the state’s primary election was an “internal party election” and that winning that contest doesn’t necessarily place the nominee on the state’s general election ballot. There is no state law that bars a political party from nominating a candidate who may be ineligible to hold office, the court wrote.

The court left open the possibility of revisiting the issue for the November general election.

The lawsuit, filed by a liberal group called Free Speech for People, is one of dozens pending across the nation that rely on a post-Civil War-era clause of the 14th Amendment to bar anyone who “engaged in insurrection” after taking an oath to uphold the Constitution from holding higher office again.

Steven Cheung, a spokesman for the Trump campaign, described the court’s order as “further validation” that the legal efforts to knock the former president off the ballot are “nothing more than strategic, un-constitutional attempts to interfere with the election by desperate Democrats who see the writing on the wall.”

The Minnesota suit has been seen as a test case for the issue more broadly. Given the number of similar challenges across the country, the issue may ultimately be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Ron Fein, legal director of Free Speech For People, said the group was disappointed by the decision.

“However, the Minnesota Supreme Court explicitly recognized that the question of Donald Trump’s disqualification for engaging in insurrection against the U.S. Constitution may be resolved at a later stage,” Fein said. “The decision isn’t binding on any court outside Minnesota and we continue our current and planned legal actions in other states to enforce Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment against Donald Trump.”

The plaintiffs argued that Trump’s efforts to overturn his 2020 election loss, leading to the January 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, mean he’s disqualified from the presidency in the same way he wouldn’t qualify if he was not a natural-born citizen, another constitutional prerequisite for the office.

The Minnesota Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case on November 2.

The clause at issue has only been used a handful of times since immediately after the Civil War. Trump’s lawyers had argued it was never meant to apply to the office of the president, which is not mentioned in the text. They also framed the legal effort as an attempt to take away from voters the right to choose a president.

Research contact: @USATODAY