Big Win for the Right To Vote at Minnesota Supreme Court as ACLJ Takes Additional Legal Action in Virginia and Michigan To Defend Your Right To Vote
This week, while many of you were exercising your right to vote in state elections across the country, the ACLJ took action in two more states and helped secure a big win in a third state in the fight to defend the right to vote for the candidates of your choice.
We have shared with you our other fights across the country where we have been acting, usually on behalf of state Republican Parties, to help defend the rights of voters and political parties to associate together to pick the candidates of their choice. Lawsuits have been filed across the country in an attempt to misconstrue the 14th Amendment to “disqualify” President Trump from the ballot in numerous states. Most recently, we attended a week-long hearing in Colorado on behalf of the Colorado Republican Committee, seeking to defend your right to vote for the candidate of your choice free from lawsuits by the radical Left. While that case is still ongoing, we wanted to share some big updates that happened this week as we defend your right to vote against these outrageous assaults.
First, last night the Minnesota Supreme Court rejected the lawsuit filed in that state by several individuals, trying to disqualify President Trump from the ballot. We filed an amicus brief in that case, urging the Minnesota Supreme Court to dismiss the case. That court ruled that the plaintiffs’ attempt to exclude President Trump from the general election ballot was not even ripe for any court to consider. But the court’s ruling on the primary presidential election is more significant. Implicitly recognizing the First Amendment rights of political parties and the kinds of arguments we have been making on behalf of political parties in numerous cases, the court ruled that a presidential primary “is an internal party election to serve internal party purposes.” Because it is a party decision, individuals have no right to try to exclude any candidate from the party’s selection in the primary process.
As we previously explained about our filing in this case:
Like all the other lawsuits, the Minnesota petition claims that a rarely invoked provision of the 14th Amendment, Section 3, gives them the right to claim that President Trump should be disqualified from even running for the presidency. As we explained more fully here, Section 3 (the disqualification clause) was aimed at former officers and soldiers of the Confederacy. Its purpose was to “put some sort of stigma upon the leaders of this [Civil War] rebellion,” as one Senator who voted to ratify the 14th Amendment put it. . . .
There is no historical evidence that Section 3 was intended to extend beyond the Reconstruction era. But that doesn’t stop those desperate to remove Donald Trump from the presidential ballot.
In our brief, we argue that Section 3 cannot be used by private parties to disqualify a candidate for the presidency. To the extent Section 3 has any application 160 years after the Civil War, it must be enforced by Congress. We present recent historical scholarship establishing that Section 3 could only be enforced by enabling legislation from Congress and that due process principles required a criminal proceeding to determine the guilt of anyone charged with insurrection or rebellion.
While the court’s ruling is a resounding victory, as the case has been thrown out in Minnesota, the court only ruled on the primary election ballot and withheld judgment on any future challenge to President Trump on the general election ballot because that aspect of the case was not ripe. Thus, a case like this one may arise again once the primary is completed. And we will be there to fight back.
Second, in Virginia, we just filed a motion to intervene on the Republican Party of Virginia’s behalf. A new case there has been brought by several individuals, trying to disqualify President Trump from the ballot based on the same arguments that have been addressed in other states. However, such issues cannot be decided without the Republican Party’s involvement. Just like in other states, the Republican Party was initially left out of this lawsuit that would purport to decide for the party who its candidates should be.
As the Commonwealth even pointed out in its brief in the case, it is the Republican Party of Virginia, not the Commonwealth, that should have the ability to decide who the Republican nominees will be. In Virginia, the Republican Party even has the authority to decide whether primary elections are held, a reflection of the associational rights that it and its members possess. The Commonwealth acknowledged the First Amendment rights of the Party to make its own decisions and to choose for itself who its candidates will be.
We are taking action to protect those rights, and we are intervening in the case on behalf of the Republican Party there in order to vindicate its interests and its ability to make its own decisions, rather than have those decisions decided for it by someone else.
Third, in Michigan this week, we filed a major amicus brief representing the Republican Parties of seven states. A lawsuit there, spearheaded by the same organization that led the lawsuit in Minnesota where we helped secure a victory yesterday, seeks to likewise disqualify President Trump from the ballot in that crucial battleground state. Four individuals filed a lawsuit in the Michigan Court of Claims (a subset of the Michigan Court of Appeals), trying to disqualify President Trump from the upcoming Michigan primary elections.
We have acted on behalf of the Michigan Republican Party to seek to vindicate that party’s rights by filing an amicus brief. Although our primary client for this amicus brief was the Michigan Republican Party, trying to vindicate its own specific rights to choose its candidates in Michigan, other state Republican parties joined this brief as well, seeking to likewise vindicate their own abilities to choose political candidates. A loss to the Michigan Republican Party is ultimately a loss to any state Republican Party and to the abilities of that state party to choose its candidates. Removing a candidate from the ballot in one state waters down the votes of citizens in other states who are now less likely to have their preferred candidate selected nationally.
Our amicus brief was ultimately filed on behalf of seven Republican Parties: the Michigan Republican Party, the Oklahoma Republican Party, the Colorado Republican Committee, the West Virginia Republican Party, the Kansas Republican Party, the North Dakota Republican Party, and the Delaware Republican Party. The ACLJ represented all of these Republican Parties with an amicus brief that thoroughly demonstrated why the Michigan Court of Claims or the Michigan Secretary of State lacks any jurisdiction to decide presidential constitutional qualifications and why any attempt to do so would be an infringement on the First Amendment rights of the state parties.
We have now helped secure victories in Oklahoma and Minnesota, but the fight continues in Colorado, West Virginia, Virginia, and Michigan, and this battle is sure to intensify. These cases continue to arise in state after state, and the push to do this from the Left seems unrelenting. We are prepared to fight this issue all the way to the Supreme Court of the United States if necessary, but we continue to need your help and support as we seek to do so.