The judge separately ruled that Michigan’s secretary of state doesn’t have the power under state law to determine Trump’s eligibility for office based on the constitutional amendment.
The rulings mark a major victory for the former president, who has a commanding lead in the 2024 Republican presidential primary race, according to recent polling.
The 14th Amendment, ratified after the Civil War, says US officials who take an oath to uphold the Constitution are banned from future office if they “engaged in insurrection.” But the Constitution doesn’t say how to enforce the ban, and it has only been applied twice since 1919, which is why many experts view these challenges as a long shot.
These lawsuits have been filed by left-leaning advocacy groups, but a bipartisan array of legal scholars and former jurists have endorsed their attempts to disqualify Trump from office.
Michigan Court of Claims Judge James Redford said in his decision Tuesday that questions about Trump’s role in the January 6, 2021, insurrection – and whether it constitutionally bars him from returning to the White House – should be addressed by elected representatives in Congress. He ruled that the matter was a “political question” that shouldn’t be decided by the judicial branch.
A court disqualifying Trump would’ve taken that decision away from “a body made up of elected representatives of the people of every state in the nation, and gives it to but one single judicial officer, a person who no matter how well intentioned, evenhanded, fair and learned, cannot in any manner or form possibly embody the represented qualities of every citizen of the nation,” Redford wrote.
Regardless of the initial rulings in these cases, most experts anticipate appeals that go all the way to the US Supreme Court, which could settle the issue for the entire nation.
This story has been updated with additional information.
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