Attorneys for Former President Donald Trump called out the “negative views” Michigan’s secretary of state holds of him in a lawsuit filed Monday.
“The Secretary’s failure to respond is creating uncertainty, which impacts how President Trump will allocate resources,” the filing in the lawsuit against Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson reads, addressing her unresponsiveness to communication on whether Trump’s name will appear on the state’s 2024 ballots.
The lawsuit, which names Trump as the plaintiff, and the Democratic secretary of state as the defendant, targets her efforts to keep the 2024 Republican presidential frontrunner off the ballot in Michigan.
“This uncertainty is compounded by the fact that Secretary Benson is an active member of the opposing major political party and has publicly weighed in with her negative views of President Trump,” the suit, filed in the Michigan Court of Claims, contends.
Citing the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the former president’s opponents have filed lawsuits in states such as New Hampshire, Arizona, Minnesota, and Michigan in an effort to keep his name from appearing on primary and general election ballots.
According to The Detroit News:
The amendment, which dates back to the aftermath of the Civil War, says no one can hold office if they have previously taken an oath to support the Constitution but “engaged in insurrection or rebellion.” Some legal experts, including retired judge J. Michael Luttig and Laurence Tribe, a constitutional law professor at Harvard, have said the 14th Amendment should block Trump from running for president again after efforts to overturn his loss to Biden in 2020 included his supporters storming the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
But Trump’s lawyers argue that Benson has “no authority to refuse to place President Trump’s name on the ballot and enter an injunction stopping her from doing so.”
They also pushed back against the claims that the January 6, 2021 riot at the U.S. Capitol was an “insurrection.”
“They did not amount to levying war against the United States,” the lawyers wrote, adding that Trump didn’t “engage” in an insurrection and that his words in a speech to the crowd that day are considered “protected speech on a matter of public concern.”
“‘Engaging’ requires some level of active participation,” the attorneys argued. “Inaction is not sufficient.”
“None of it meets the stringent requirements for ‘incitement,’ both because the content itself is not sufficiently explicit and because it does not evince a specific intent to engage in unlawful activity,” they wrote.
Benson was reportedly issued a letter from Trump’s lawyer, David Warrington, back in August seeking confirmation that the GOP candidate’s name would appear on the state’s ballot. For her part, Benson had already indicated that the former president’s name would only be blocked if a court were to order it.
“Whether Trump is eligible to run for president again is a decision not for secretaries of state but for the courts,” she wrote in a Washington Post op-ed last month.
And a letter from Michigan’s Bureau of Elections noted that the state’s election law “did not expressly authorize” its top election official to make decisions on 14th Amendment or other eligibility factors, according to the Detroit News.
“As the polls and press coverage indicate, President Trump plainly qualifies as a candidate who is eligible to be placed on the Secretary of State’s notification list and on the primary ballot,” Warrington wrote.
Benson’s lack of response to the letter created the “uncertainty” Trump’s lawyers referred to in the lawsuit.
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