Citing Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment, also known as the Insurrectionist Disqualification Clause, the plaintiffs argue that former President Trump is constitutionally ineligible for public office after inciting the violent January 6th Capitol insurrection.

LANSING, MI (November 16, 2023) – Today, the plaintiffs filed an appeal in LaBrant v. Benson, the 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 challenging Donald Trump’s candidacy. In addition to lodging an appeal in the Michigan Court of Appeals, the plaintiffs filed in the Michigan Supreme Court an emergency bypass application seeking immediate Supreme Court review, citing the urgency of expedited resolution due to the pressing need to finalize and print the ballots.

The complaint, filed in the Michigan Court of Claims on September 29, 2023, sought to enjoin Secretary of State Benson from listing Trump’s name on the presidential primary ballot. On November 14, the Court of Claims denied the plaintiffs’ motion for injunction, opining that (1) Michigan statutory law does not allow a candidacy challenge at the primary stage, (2) a challenge at the general election stage is not yet ripe, and (3) the federal “political question doctrine” bars judicial consideration “at the present time.”

The plaintiffs’ appeal and emergency bypass application refutes each of those points. Notably, the plaintiffs’ brief explains why the political question doctrine does not simply apply whenever a case touches upon political issues, but rather only when it asks a court to decide a question that the Constitution specifically assigns to another branch of government. The plaintiffs had cited multiple leading authorities, including an appellate decision written by now-U.S. Supreme Court Neil Gorsuch, confirming that states can legitimately exclude constitutionally ineligible candidates from presidential ballots. The Court of Claims ignored these authorities, instead preferring to quote extensively from a different trial court case where the judge admitted that the pro se plaintiff had not cited any relevant case law and the judge could not find any either. 

The plaintiffs’ initial complaint detailed the multiple actions taken by Trump to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election, starting with widespread claims of election fraud and repeatedly urging former Vice President Mike Pence to reject the electoral certification of the results before and during the January 6th attack. It also describes the ways in which Trump incited his supporters, many of whom were armed, and whom he knew to be armed, to march to the Capitol and “fight like hell.” When Trump was prevented from engaging in the Capitol attack himself, he stationed himself in the White House dining room and refused to call off his supporters for more than three hours as they violently attacked members of the Capitol Police and forced members of Congress into hiding while invading the building. Congress, over a dozen federal judges, Trump’s own Department of Justice, and his personal defense lawyer have all characterized the attack as an insurrection, and judges hearing January 6-related cases have repeatedly assigned responsibility for that insurrection to Trump.

Enacted in the wake of the Civil War, Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment disqualifies from public office any individual who has taken an oath to uphold the U.S. Constitution but then engages in insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or gives aid or comfort to its enemies. No prior criminal conviction is required. Trump’s involvement in the violent attack on Congress to prevent the certification of election results, which resulted in the disruption of the peaceful transfer of power for the first time in our nation’s history, disqualifies him from holding any future public office. State election officials do not need permission from Congress to enforce the Insurrectionist Disqualification Clause, just as they do not need congressional approval to enforce the U.S. Constitution in general.

To read the plaintiffs’ emergency bypass application (Emergency Application for Leave to Appeal Before Decision by the Court of Appeals), click here.

To learn more about the case, click here.