LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Former President Donald Trump is asking a court to prevent Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson from leaving his name off the 2024 primary ballot.
In a filing made Monday in the Michigan Court of Claims, Trump's attorneys also want the court to declare that Benson has neither the duty nor authority to assess Trump’s constitutional qualifications to serve as president.
Trump's filing is in response to efforts by activists in Michigan who have asked a judge to order Benson to keep his name off any ballot for president. They point to a section of the U.S. Constitution's 14th Amendment that prohibits a person from running for federal office if they have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the U.S. or given aid or comfort to those who have.
Last week, a Court of Claims judge denied Trump’s request to dismiss their lawsuit, the Detroit Free Press reported.
The activists' efforts mirror others around the nation that paint Trump as the inciter of the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, which was intended to stop Congress from certifying Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential election win.
A lawsuit in Colorado also is focusing on the Constitution's “insurrection” clause to bar Trump from that state's 2024 ballot. Lawyers representing six Republican and unaffiliated Colorado voters argue that Trump’s violent rhetoric preceding the attack makes him culpable.
A hearing also is scheduled this week before the Minnesota Supreme Court.
Monday's Michigan filing by Trump called the events of Jan. 6, 2021 “a riot.”
“They were not an ‘insurrection’ for purposes of section three of the Fourteenth Amendment,” Trump's lawyers wrote. "They did not amount to levying war against the United States. Even if the events of January 6, 2021, could constitute an ‘insurrection’ (they do not), President Trump did not ‘engage’ in it. ‘Engaging’ requires some level of active participation. Inaction is not sufficient.”
Trump is considered the leading candidate for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination.
“Despite President Trump’s tremendous popularity, there are people who want to deny Michigan voters the opportunity to express their choice by voting for him,” according to Trump's Michigan filing. “To accomplish this, they want the secretary of state to violate her duties and exercise powers she does not have to keep President Trump’s name off of the ballot. And they want to use this court as a vehicle to do it.”
Benson's office said Tuesday that it could not comment on pending litigation.