Attorneys for former President Donald Trump responded this week to a petition seeking to remove him from the ballot in Minnesota, calling the effort “manifestly inappropriate.”
A group called Free Speech For People filed a petition with the Minnesota Supreme Court Sept. 12 on behalf of several voters seeking to bar Trump from appearing on Minnesota’s presidential election ballots in 2024. The petition argues that Section 3 of the 14th Amendment prevents anyone who previously took an oath to the U.S. Constitution and then engaged “in insurrection or rebellion” from holding office again.
“Our predecessors understood that oath-breaking insurrectionists will do it again, and worse, if allowed back into power, so they enacted the Insurrectionist Disqualification Clause to protect the republic from people like Trump. Trump is legally barred from the ballot and election officials must follow this constitutional mandate,” Ron Fein, legal director at Free Speech For People, previously said.
Trump’s attorneys argued in a response filed this week that the theory contains a fatal flaw: “Petitioners have no evidence that President Trump intended or supported any violent or unlawful activity seeking to overthrow the government of the United States, either on January 6 or at any other time.”
“On topic after topic, Petitioners seek to make up for the conspicuous absence of evidence by relying on innuendo, insinuation, and disdain for President Trump to win the day. Those are arguments for the American voters, not for this Court,” they write.
Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon, a Democrat who is named as a respondent, has declined to take a position on the merits of the case but said in a filing this week that the case should be resolved by Jan. 5 so that local election officials have time to prepare for primary elections.
“The Secretary affirmatively notes, however, that no Minnesota law authorizes him to independently block or remove a candidate from an election ballot in Minnesota on the grounds that that candidate fails to meet eligibility requirements imposed by the United States Constitution,” his office says in its response.
Free Speech For People and its allies have launched a nationwide effort calling on secretaries of state to remove Trump from the ballot, but election officials so far have rejected these requests, saying they are “not the eligibility police.” Lawsuits seeking to bar Trump from the ballot also have been filed in Michigan and Colorado.
“For the past several years, whether Donald J. Trump is suited to hold the Presidency has been the defining political controversy of our national life. Petitioners now ask this Court to terminate further discourse and decide this quintessential national question without regard for America’s voters and their elected representatives,” Trump’s attorneys write.
“This request is manifestly inappropriate. Both the federal Constitution and Minnesota law place the resolution of this political issue where it belongs: the democratic process, in the hands of either Congress or the people of the United States.”
The Republican Party of Minnesota also filed a response to the petition, arguing that removing Trump from the ballot would “butcher” the Constitution by violating the party’s right to freedom of association and interfering in its “internal presidential candidate selection process.”
“These legal theories are better suited for debate in academia and the political opinions for resolution by the electorate — not by this Court on the eve of an election season when the purported disqualification occurred over two years ago,” says the party’s response.
The Minnesota Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments in the case Nov. 2.