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Republican presidential candidate and former President Donald Trump is pictured in Las Vegas, Nevada on October 28, 2023.
Some members of the Minnesota Supreme Court appear skeptical about excluding Donald Trump from the 2024 ballot, and in a hearing Thursday he argued that the 14th Amendment’s ban on insurrectionists Difficult questions were asked of challengers who claim they are disqualified under the clause.
However, there was some openness to the challengers’ demands for future hearings to flesh out the difficult constitutional issues at issue. The judges said they would issue a decision at a later date.
groups of voters in minnesota filed a lawsuit President Trump asked judges to enforce Section 3 of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which was approved after the Civil War and states that U.S. officials “involved in rebellion” are barred from holding future public office. This is to prevent people from voting.
This is one of several challenges posed by anti-Trump presidential candidates across the country. His one-week trial involved: ongoing in Colorado Oral arguments in a similar case are scheduled for next week in Michigan.
Minnesota Supreme Court Chief Justice Natalie Hudson said taking the drastic step of removing Trump from the state’s ballot would create “confusion” with “50 different states… making different decisions on this issue.” “I’m concerned,” he said.
“Suppose we agree that Article III is self-enforceable and that we have the authority under the relevant statutes to remove Mr. Trump’s name from the ballot. Should we? That’s what concerns me most. “It’s a question of how things get done,” Hudson said.
Associate Justice Barry Anderson said he saw “very serious problems” with the challengers’ argument that the court was the appropriate forum to resolve this “political issue.” (Just last week, a federal court in New Hampshire dismissed a similar case on those grounds.) Hudson also said the entire Constitution suggests that “this is a national question for Congress to decide.” said.
“At best, there are a lot of different authorities out there,” Hudson said. “So I guess my question is, are you suggesting that we use prudence and judicial restraint to maintain the status quo?”
Four of the five judges who participated in the hearing were appointed by Democratic governors.
Derek Mueller, an election law expert at the University of Notre Dame Law School, submitted a brief that was neutral on Trump’s eligibility but provided an analysis of key legal issues. After the hearing, he told CNN that courts seem to be less likely to get involved in “contentious political controversies” such as disqualifying President Trump.
“The justices seemed skeptical that the Minnesota Supreme Court would hear a case like this,” Mueller said.
Anti-Trump lawyer Ron Fein urged the judge to “defend the Constitution of the United States and defend American democracy” by disqualifying President Trump. Fein is the legal director of Free Speech For People, a liberal-leaning advocacy group that supports anti-Trump protests in Minnesota.
“Starting before the 2020 election and culminating on January 6, 2021, Donald Trump launched an insurrection against the U.S. Constitution in a desperate attempt to remain in office after losing the election. committed an insurrection,” Fain said. “Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment protects the Republic from oath-breaking insurrectionists, because its Framers believed that if the Republic were allowed to return to power, Because I knew I would go above and beyond.”
Some of the justices asked him pointed questions, suggesting he faces an uphill battle to remove Trump’s name from the ballot. Pressed about the possibility of nationwide chaos if Trump were removed from some votes but left in others, Fein said, “Courts have to follow the law, even if it’s inconvenient.” It must be done,” he said.
Trump’s lawyer, Nicholas Nelson, argued that past decisions in 14th Amendment standing cases “overwhelmingly” have kept judges out of the equation and should leave the matter to Congress and voters.
“There is no more political question in our constitutional order than the political question of who should be president. Parties should intervene in the process and ask the courts to decide who can and cannot be president. That’s why, when asked, the courts overwhelmingly said yes.”It’s not a decision that should be made in the judicial branch,” Nelson said.
The 14th Amendment does not define what it means to be “insurrection” or “engaging in” an insurrection, and that ambiguity complicates the case for Trump’s challengers.
Judge Gordon Moore asked both sides to define “insurrection,” and Judge Nelson said “insurrection” should be interpreted as “an organized war aimed at secession from, or overthrow, the United States government.” .
“We would say that what happened on January 6th was a crime, some of it was serious, some of it was violence, some of it was serious, but there is no scale or scope of what would be considered an insurrection. “We haven’t reached that point,” Nelson said.
Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon, a Democrat, has not taken a position on Trump’s eligibility to run for president. Mr. Simon’s lawyer said Thursday that his office does not have the authority to remove President Trump from office on its own, but would do whatever the court orders.
They asked the high court to resolve the issue by early January so they have enough time to print ballots for the state’s Republican primary on Super Tuesday, March 5.
CNN’s Avery Lotz contributed to this report.