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Former US President Donald Trump after concluding his testimony at his civil fraud trial in New York State Supreme Court on November 6, 2023 in New York City.
The Minnesota Supreme Court on Wednesday rejected an attempt to block Donald Trump from the state’s GOP primary ballot next year based on the 14th Amendment’s “sedition clause,” but said the challengers can try again to block him from the ballot if the former president wins the Republican primary nomination.
The 14th Amendment, ratified after the Civil War, states that US officials who take an oath to uphold the Constitution are barred from future office if they “engage in rebellion.” But the constitution does not say how the ban should be enforced, and it has only been used twice since 1919, so many experts see these challenges as a long shot.
The ruling is a victory for Trump in terms of keeping his name on the ballot for the 2024 GOP primary, where he has a commanding lead according to the latest poll. But the Minnesota judges didn’t go as far as Trump’s lawyers wanted, which was to keep him on the ballot for the primary and general.
“There is no statute that prohibits a major political party from recording the primary ballot on the presidential nomination, or from sending delegates to the national convention supporting a candidate who is ineligible to hold office,” the high court wrote in a four pages long decision. .
Accordingly, the court dismissed the case, but said it would not prevent the challengers from “bringing a petition raising their claim in respect of the general election.”
In a statement, Trump campaign spokesman Steven Cheung said the decision “is further validation of the Trump campaign’s consistent argument that the 14th Amendment ballot challenges are nothing more than strategic, unconstitutional attempts to interfere in the election.”
Those lawsuits “should be summarily thrown out wherever they next arise,” Cheung said.
Similar anti-Trump challenges are still underway in Colorado and Michigan. The cases have been handled by left-leaning advocacy groups, but a bipartisan array of legal scholars and former lawyers have backed their bid to disqualify Trump from office.
The challengers — a bipartisan group of Minnesota voters — could appeal Wednesday’s decision.
At oral arguments earlier this month, several of the justices seemed skeptical about removing Trump from the ballot. One judge said it might be wise to exercise “judicial restraint,” while another nodded to the idea that voters should probably be the ones to decide whether Trump returns to the presidency.
Regardless of the initial rulings in these cases, most experts expect appeals to go all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which could decide the issue for the entire nation.
This story has been updated with further developments.