Today, the Michigan Supreme Court issued a ruling in LaBrant v. Bensonthe lawsuit brought by Free Speech For People and election lawyer Mark Brewer of Goodman Acker P.C. on behalf of a diverse group of Michigan voters who filed a legal challenge to Donald Trump’s candidacy. The lawsuit was filed against Secretary Benson of Michigan, calling on her to exercise her obligation under the U.S. Constitution and Michigan law to disqualify Trump from office for having engaged in insurrection and rebellion against the U.S. Constitution that began in late 2020 and culminated in the violent insurrection at the Capitol on January 6, 2021.

The Michigan Supreme Court declined to review a ruling of the Michigan Court of Appeals that granted Trump’s request to stop the proceedings at the primary stage, as opposed to the general election. The lower court’s ruling was based on technicalities of Michigan state law regarding when challenges to presidential candidates’ qualifications may be filed. The court held that these challenges may not be filed before the primary–only afterwards.

The Michigan Supreme Court did not address any questions arising under the U.S. Constitution. It did not rule on Trump’s claim that section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment requires federal implementing legislation; it did not rule on Trump’s claim that only Congress can decide presidential candidates’ qualifications; it did not rule on Trump’s claim that the president of the United States is not an “officer of the United States”; and it did not rule on any of various obscure legal theories raised by Trump’s supporters. It simply declined to overrule a lower court ruling that the Michigan state challenge process does not allow challenges to presidential candidates at the primary stage. 

Consequently, it has no impact on Free Speech For People’s pending challenge in Oregon, or the status of the Colorado Supreme Court’s landmark decision ruling that Trump is disqualified under Section 3, or any other challenges FSFP plans to bring in other states. Nor does it preclude FSFP from raising the same claims in Michigan before the general election, if Trump’s candidacy proceeds to that point.

“We are disappointed by the Michigan Supreme Court’s decision,” said Ron Fein, Legal Director of Free Speech For People, an attorney for the plaintiffs. “The ruling conflicts with longstanding US Supreme Court precedent that makes clear that when political parties use the election machinery of the state to select, via the primary process, their candidates for the general election, they must comply with all constitutional requirements in that process. However, the Michigan Supreme Court did not rule out that the question of Donald Trump’s disqualification for engaging in insurrection against the U.S. Constitution may be resolved at a later stage. The decision isn’t binding on any court outside Michigan and we continue our current and planned legal actions in other states to enforce Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment against Donald Trump.”

“The Court’s decision is disappointing but we will continue, at a later stage, to seek to uphold this critical constitutional provision designed to protect our republic,” said Brewer. “Trump led a rebellion and insurrection against the Constitution when he tried to overturn the 2020 presidential election and he is disqualified from ever seeking or holding public office again.

To read the ruling, click here.

To learn more about this case, click here.To learn more about Free Speech For People’s pending challenges to Trump under section 3 in other states, click here.