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MI Court of Claims sets speedy schedule for Trump ballot case

The Michigan Court of Claims has fast-tracked a legal challenge to allowing former President Donald Trump to appear on the statewide ballot.

The briefing schedule will allow a decision from the Court of Claims by the end of October and clear a path for any appeals to be wrapped up by the end of the year.

“I would think the secretary of state and the local clerks would want to make sure ballots are finalized by the first of the year roughly,” said plaintiffs’ attorney Mark Brewer.
“Obviously, the sooner the better for them. But this is a very important issue and we need to get a judicial decision on it.”

The plaintiffs are four voters who argue Trump is not eligible for the ballot under the insurrection clause of the U.S. Constitution, which was originally aimed at Confederate rebels following the Civil War. The plaintiffs argue the clause applies equally to Trump for seeking to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election and goading his supporters into storming the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021.

Democratic Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson has said she cannot keep Trump off the election ballot without a court order. So Brewer, a former Michigan Democratic Party chair, said that is what the plaintiffs are pursuing.

“The Secretary of State is going to issue her list of presidential (primary) candidates in November,” he said, “And it’s important that we get a final resolution of whether Trump can be on that list as soon as possible.”

This is one several efforts to block Trump from appearing on ballots in various states.

In response to similar lawsuits, Trump has said he engaged in constitutionally protected free speech, and that keeping his name off the ballot would infringe on his First Amendment rights. His campaign did not respond to a request on the Court of Claims decision to fast-track the Michigan case.

Final briefs are due to the Court of Claims by October 30. A decision could come any time after that. That decision would almost certainly be appealed up to the Michigan Supreme Court.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987. His journalism background includes stints with UPI, The Elizabeth (NJ) Daily Journal, The (Pontiac, MI) Oakland Press, and WJR. He is also a lifelong public radio listener.
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