Today, the Minnesota Supreme Court issued a ruling in Growe v. Simon, the landmark challenge to Donald Trump’s eligibility for office under section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment. Unfortunately, the court granted Trump’s request to stop the proceedings at the primary stage, but specifically allowed the petitioners to refile before the general election.


The court’s ruling was based on technicalities of Minnesota state law: specifically, that “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.” The court dismissed the petition, but “without prejudice as to petitioners bringing a petition raising their claims as to the general election.”
The 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 the Republican Party of Minnesota’s claim that a primary-stage challenge violates its freedom of association. It simply ruled that the Minnesota state challenge statute does not allow challenges to presidential candidates at the primary stage.


Consequently, it has no impact on Free Speech For People’s challenge in Michigan, or CREW’s similar challenge in Colorado, or any other challenges FSFP plans to bring in other states. Nor, as the court’s order specifically mentioned, does it preclude FSFP from raising the same claims before the general election, if Trump’s candidacy proceeds to that point.


“We are disappointed by the court’s decision,” said Ron Fein, Legal Director of Free Speech For People, an attorney for the petitioners who argued before the court on November 2. “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. 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.”


“We are grateful for the eight petitioners who bravely stepped forward to defend the Constitution,” said Charles Nauen of Lockridge Grindal Nauen in Minneapolis, another attorney for the petitioners. “Rest assured, Minnesotans will continue to stand up for our democracy.”
Read the order here.