Michigan Supreme Court declines to hear Trump eligibility case

Originally published at: Michigan Supreme Court declines to hear Trump eligibility case - Boing Boing


There is a reasonable case to be made that such decisions should be made at the Federal level. Imagine if different states had come to different conclusions about whether the “natural born citizen” rule disqualified John McCain since he was born abroad.

I have a hard time imagining congress or the current SCOTUS stepping up to make the right call here though. Fingers crossed anyway.


Quite a few of the SCOTUS Justices reflexively yell “STATES RIGHTS!!!” before they kill a bug in their home.


“political parties might have an obligation to ensure that proposed presidential primary candidates are eligible,” but it is not the State’s job to enforce it

Yet apparently this court wasn’t sufficiently motivated (or “aligned”) to conclude what the “obligations of a political party might be”? So let’s all form our own “Standing at the Back Dressed Stupidly and Looking Stupid Party” in every such state and run a thirteen year old who just migrated in from Vulgaria

(bonus bit: list of fictional political parties …three cheers for the Prehistoric Zucchini Party)


The dissent noted that “political parties might have an obligation to ensure that proposed presidential primary candidates are eligible,” but it is not the State’s job to enforce it.

We can trust the political party under discussion here to make the right choice, given its long history of good-faith decisions. /s

Let’s hope the Michigan Supreme Court isn’t so willfully naive if a case regarding eligibility for the general election is brought before it.


Dear Michigan Supreme Court:

You know what else was a political question? The Civil War.


I’m more than a little leery about this whole disqualification thing.

I personally feel that Trump did indeed engage in insurrection. But I am not a court of law. My opinion is just that - my opinion.

If this is allowed, what’s to stop Republican states from disqualifying Democratic candidates using spurious reasons? Texas has already floated that idea in retaliation using “failure to secure the borders” as the reason.

This is a dangerous and very slippery slope.


That’s going to happen anyhow, whatever the ruling. We shouldn’t shy away from encouraging courts to do the right thing in specific cases just because it’s guaranteed that right-wingers will twist and then weaponise the rulings against their enemies.


By far the most impactful aspect of this has little to nothing to do with eligibility per se, but the CO court finding that trump engaged in insurrection, especially if SCOTUS addresses it directly (and appropriately🤞) when reviewing. If he is disallowed from running in the primary in a few states and there are enough votes obtained by Haley to mount a real challenge, the GQP will simply have a brokered convention and select him anyway. Haley’s camp will have a solid procedural argument on their side and the trump camp will have violence.


Presumably the difference is that in Colorado there is a state law that says candidates have to be eligible for office in order to be on a primary ballot. Not all states have this law.


First and foremost: Happy cake day!

Here’s a “dangerous and very slippery slope”: let’s enforce only those laws which won’t risk a weaponized reaction by the republican party against its perceived adversaries.

As to what’s to stop Republican states making “spurious” use of any law, well that’s what courts are for. We can’t shrink from enforcing a law if doing so will risk having that law used against us; or there will be no law enforcement at all.


The problem with this specific case is that it concerns the primary ballot for the election of a party’s nominee for President. The US Constitution is entirely silent on such elections, in no small part because political parties aren’t mentioned at all. The only thing the US Constitution says about the process of electing the President is that “[e]ach state shall appoint, in such manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a number of electors, equal to the whole number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress: but no Senator or Representative, or person holding an office of trust or profit under the United States, shall be appointed an elector.” Unlike the Colorado case, Michigan law is apparently silent on eligibility for party primary elections. That’s what allowed the Colorado Supreme Court to disqualify Trump. They do have a law giving the state the authority to declare a primary candidate ineligible. I think both states’ Supreme Courts made the correct decision, given their respective laws.

The more I think about this, the more I realize that the US Supreme Court should deny cert in the Colorado case. That case deals with a party primary ballot, which, as I already said, isn’t covered by anything in the US Constitution. Presumably, Trump could refile to run as an Independent in Colorado, and just submit his name for the ballot in the general election, so the state hasn’t yet prevented him from running for President. Now, if the Col. Sec. of State kicks him off that ballot, then that could trigger a lawsuit by Trump which SCOTUS might have more grounds to hear. I don’t know. It’s going to be interesting to see how all this plays out. I don’t think any decision by any court is a sure thing here. We really are in uncharted waters, legally speaking.


My understanding is that the banning of Trump from the primary is based on the 14th Amendment clause preventing supporters of insurrection from holding public office. This amendment was brought in after the Civil War, by which time the party system had been established. Surely it was intended to deal with a situation in which parties existed, even if it doesn’t mention them.


Ah, thanks for this, because I was confused and now I get it.

(I was particularly confused by “The dissent noted that ‘political parties might have an obligation to ensure that proposed presidential primary candidates are eligible,’ but it is not the State’s job to enforce it,” but that makes complete sense in the context of primaries. I was misreading it as “It’s not the court’s place to decide who is ineligible to be president,” rather than “political parties should really vet their candidates for eligibility, but it they want to put forth candidates who won’t be allowed to actually fill the position, it’s no skin off anyone else’s nose.”)


If parties had an obligation to run only eligible candidates Santos would never have been on the ballot.


Exactly. And the only thing that allowed the Colorado courts to intervene is a Colorado statute allowing the state to get involved in primary ballot eligibility, which Michigan does not have.


It was never intended that a political party would behave in such a poor fashion.

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Santos met all the legal requirements to be elected, as set out in the constitution. He was expelled for violating the House’s own ethics standards, which only the house can set and enforce. So it’s not really comparable.

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how do we really know that santos actually met any requirements when he lied about everything?!


I look forward to the new Biden age talking point. Clearly he is to young to run for president, invalidating the current term too.