Updated Nov 8, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Trump allowed to stay on Minnesota presidential ballot — for now

Former President Trump, pictured at a 2020 campaign rally in Minnesota, has argued he should remain on Minnesota's ballots. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The Minnesota Supreme Court dismissed a legal challenge seeking to block former President Trump from the state's presidential primary ballots.

The big picture: Minnesota is one of several states to see lawsuits arguing that the Republican primary front-runner's actions surrounding the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol riot should disqualify him from serving as — and therefore running for — president under the 14th Amendment's insurrection clause.

Driving the news: In an order issued Wednesday, Minnesota's high court rejected petitioners' arguments that the court should intervene ahead of the state's presidential nominating primary, which is set to be held in March.

What they're saying: "Although the Secretary of State and other election officials administer the mechanics of the election, it is an internal party election to serve internal party purposes," the ruling reads.

  • "And winning the presidential nomination primary does not place the person on the general election ballot as a candidate for President of the United States."

The intrigue: The order doesn't address the underlying issues surrounding the 14th Amendment, and it leaves the door open for petitioners to bring a challenge related to the general election ballot if Trump becomes the party's nominee.

Catch up fast: The lawsuit, filed in September, asked the state Supreme Court to force Secretary of State Steve Simon to use his authority as election administrator to exclude Trump from the ballot.

  • Attorneys for the petitioners had argued that action is needed to protect the integrity of the election.

The response: Ron Fein, an attorney with the legal group backing the challenge, said petitioners are "disappointed by the court's decision," but noted that the ruling "explicitly recognized that the question of Donald Trump's disqualification for engaging in insurrection against the U.S. Constitution may be resolved at a later stage."

  • "The decision isn't binding on any court outside Minnesota and we continue our current and planned legal actions in other states," he said in a statement.

The other side: Representatives for Trump have dismissed the legal theories as "absurd."

  • His attorneys asked the Minnesota justices to throw out the case, arguing that picking presidential nominees is a political question, not a legal one.
  • Trump campaign spokesperson Steven Cheung responded to the ruling by denouncing those filing 14th amendment lawsuits as "sham groups doing the bidding of the Biden campaign," adding "their ballot challenges should be summarily thrown out wherever they next arise."

Flashback: During oral arguments last week, several justices expressed reservations about whether they should step in on the matter.

  • Some questioned whether the eligibility question is better left to Congress, given its role in certifying results and impeachment powers, or voters.

What we're watching: The trial in a similar lawsuit filed in Colorado is ongoing. Another lawsuit in Michigan is in its early stages.

  • An attorney for the nonprofit that brought the Minnesota suit on behalf of group of state voters told reporters last week that they still plan to file in additional states.
  • Many legal experts and attorneys expect that the question could ultimately reach the U.S. Supreme Court.

Go deeper: Trump's presidential ballot eligibility on trial in Colorado and Minnesota

Editor's note: This article has been updated with comment from Trump campaign spokesperson Steven Cheung and petitioners' attorney Ron Fein.

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