Minnesota’s top election official will remain neutral and not oppose a Disqualification Clause case against Donald Trump that is pending before the state’s Supreme Court.
While Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon is remaining neutral on the merits of the Disqualification Clause case, he told the state’s high that he “strongly agrees” that it is the “proper process” for determining whether Trump is eligible to be on the 2024 ballot.
Simon only asked that the court decide whether to disqualify Trump by Jan. 5. The state’s GOP presidential primary is set for March 5, but absentee voting begins Jan. 19, Simon told the court.
The Minnesota lawsuit, filed by good government nonprofit Free Speech for People, seeks to have the state Supreme Court remove Trump from the ballot by finding that he engaged in an insurrection when he sought to reverse his loss in the 2020 election.
It’s one of several attempts around the country to use the Constitution’s Reconstruction-era ban on candidates who took the oath of office and then engaged in an insurrection to prevent Trump from running.
A peculiarity of Minnesota law accelerates the case. Under state law, challenges to federal candidates begin in the state Supreme Court, meaning that the process bypasses the winding road up from the trial court level.
Last week, the state Supreme Court effectively ordered the case to enter a motion to dismiss phase, asking parties to address whether the court could even hear the case, and whether the Disqualification Clause applies to presidential candidates.
By saying that the lawsuit is the appropriate process for deciding whether Trump can won, the secretary of state’s office delivered a real win for those seeking to have Minnesota remove Trump. But Simon rejected the plaintiffs’ argument that he has the power under state law to determine if Trump is eligible to be president and to remove him from the ballot.
The Minnesota Republican Party argued separately to the high court that presidential candidates cannot be disqualified under the clause, and that Free Speech for People, which is using former Secretary of State Joan Gowe (D) as a plaintiff, did not have standing to sue. The state party also argued that the First Amendment’s free association protections should obviate the case.
CREW filed a separate case in Colorado, which began at the district court level. Both CREW and Free Speech for People have said that they intend to file additional cases across the country seeking Trump’s removal.
Read the filing here: