The Minnesota Supreme Court cleared the way on Wednesday for Trump to run in the state’s Republican primary next year, deferring a ruling on whether the Constitution’s Disqualification Clause renders him ineligible to be on the general election ballot.
The court’s ruling pushes the question of Trump’s eligibility past the GOP primary until the general election.
On the surface, it’s a win for Trump. But it may only be a short-term victory.
The ruling removes a key hurdle in the longer-term war over whether the 14th Amendment’s ban on insurrectionists from holding office applies to Trump. The court ruled that it has jurisdiction to hear the case and that the good government group bring the case had standing, dismissing a range of arguments holding that groups seeking to disqualify Trump had erred by bringing the case in the first place.
Good government non-profit Free Speech for People brought the suit in September, seeking to use Minnesota state law to knock Trump off the ballot. The group filed a similar lawsuit in Michigan; oral arguments in that case are scheduled for Thursday.
In response, the Minnesota high court ordered all parties to the case to effectively enter a motion to dismiss phase: address whether the court had jurisdiction to hear the case, including whether Congress needed to pass additional legislation to enforce the 14th Amendment.
The Wednesday ruling is a short-term blow to Free Speech for People, as it effectively delays their effort to disqualify Trump until next year. But the court was explicit in its ruling that it was dismissing the case in such a way that did not block them from “bringing a petition raising their claims as to the general election.”
For now, the court found that the state party presidential primary is an “internal party election to serve internal party purposes,” merely administered by the Secretary of State. But that leaves the question of the national election open.
“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 ruling reads.
Free Speech for People, in Minnesota as in Michigan, sought an evidentiary hearing where questions around whether Trump qualified under the Disqualification Clause’s test of having engaged in an insurrection could be tested.
Any such hearing in Minnesota will now be punted until after the state’s GOP primaries. Judges across the country who have heard petitions seeking to disqualify Trump under the Reconstruction-era amendment have repeatedly said that they believe the Supreme Court should weigh in on the issue.
“We are disappointed by the court’s decision,” Ron Fein, Legal Director of Free Speech For People, said in a statement. “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.”
Read the ruling here: