On September 29, 2023, Free Speech For People, on behalf of a diverse group of Michigan voters filed a legal challenge to Donald Trump’s candidacy. The complaint, filed with the Michigan Court of Claims against Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, argues that Trump is constitutionally disqualified from public office under Section Three of the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, for his role in inciting and facilitating the violent insurrection at the Capitol on January 6, 2021.

The voters are represented by Free Speech For People, which is serving as co-lead counsel in the matter, along with Goodman Acker P.C.

On November 14, 2023, the Court of Claims denied our request for an injunction. The court did not address Trump’s conduct engaging and leading rebellion and insurrection against the Constitution, including the insurrectionist attack on the Capitol on January 6, 2021. Instead, the court relied on Michigan law and a discredited version of the “political question doctrine” to avoid a hearing on the merits. On December 15, the Court of Appeals affirmed solely on Michigan law grounds, ignoring the Court of Claims’ “political question doctrine” backup rationale.

On December 18, 2023, we appealed that decision to the Michigan Supreme Court and requested emergency expedited consideration. On December 20, we filed a notice of supplemental authority citing the December 19 Colorado Supreme Court decision holding that Trump is disqualified under Section Three.

Key Facts

Caption LaBrant v. Benson
Court Michigan Supreme Court
Docket No.
Supreme Court No. 166470
Status Before the Michigan Supreme Court
Plaintiffs Michigan voters
Defendants Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson


Section Three of the Fourteenth Amendment, known as the Disqualification Clause, provides: “No Person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress. . . who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress . . . to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof.” The purpose of the Disqualification Clause, passed in the wake of the Civil War, was to protect the country.

Trump’s involvement in the coordinated and violent attack on the United States Capitol in an effort to prevent Congress from certifying the election results on January 6, 2021, disqualifies him from holding future public office. State election officials do not need permission from Congress to enforce this, just as they do not need it to enforce the U.S. constitution in general.

On September 29, 2023, Free Speech For People, on behalf of a diverse group of Michigan voters, filed a legal challenge to Donald Trump’s candidacy.

The petition details multiple actions Trump took in an attempt to overturn the 2020 presidential election results, including widespread claims of election fraud and repeatedly urging former Vice President Mike Pence to reject certification of the results before and during the January 6th attack. He incited his supporters, many of them armed, to march the Capitol and “fight like hell.” Once he was prevented from engaging in the attack himself, he refused to call off his supporters, as they violently attacked members of the Capitol Police. Congress, over a dozen federal judges, Trump’s own Department of Justice, and his personal defense lawyer characterized the attack as an insurrection. Judges hearing January 6-related cases have repeatedly stated that Trump was responsible for this insurrection.

In parallel with but separately from this litigation, Free Speech For People and Mi Familia Vota Education Fund are co-leading a national campaign to ensure that election officials across the country follow the mandate of Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Read the press release

Read the complaint

Other 14Point3 Cases

In 2022, Free Speech For People filed similar challenges against Georgia Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene and former North Carolina Congressman Madison Cawthorn, for their roles in the January 6th insurrection.

Although those challenges did not result in disqualification (Cawthorn’s because he lost his primary; Greene’s because the judge found insufficient factual evidence that she, personally, had engaged in the insurrection), they set important legal precedent for this challenge, including: that states have legal authority to adjudicate Section 3 challenges; that state processes for adjudicating Section 3 challenges do not violate a candidate’s constitutional rights; that no prior criminal conviction is required under Section 3 challenge; that words can constitute engaging in insurrection; and that an 1872 congressional amnesty for ex-Confederates does not apply to January 6.

On September 6, 2022, Judge Francis J. Matthew of New Mexico’s First District permanently enjoined Otero County Commissioner and “Cowboys for Trump” founder Couy Griffin from holding office under the Insurrectionist Disqualification Clause.

One year later, Free Speech For People, on behalf of a diverse group of Minnesota voters including a former Secretary of State and a former Minnesota Supreme Court justice, filed a legal challenge to Donald Trump’s candidacy. Click here to learn more about that cases’s latest developments.

Major Developments and Documents

Michigan Court of Claims


Main photo by Catherine Ottarson, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons