The Minnesota Supreme Court on Wednesday rejected an attempt to keep Donald Trump off of the 2024 Republican presidential primary ballot in the northern US state.
At the same time, the state’s highest court said it would be open to hearing an eventual challenge to Trump’s eligibility to appear on the November 2024 presidential election ballot.
Legal efforts to bar the former president from next year’s White House race are underway in several states on the grounds that he violated his oath of office by engaging in an insurrection — the January 6, 2021 attack on the US Capitol by his supporters.
The argument, which has legal scholars sharply divided, rests on an amendment to the Constitution ratified after the 1861-65 Civil War.
Section 3 of the 14th Amendment bars anyone from holding public office if they engage in “insurrection or rebellion” after once having pledged to support and defend the Constitution.
Ratified in 1868, the amendment was aimed at preventing supporters of the slave-holding Confederacy from being elected to Congress or from holding federal positions.
Citing the 14th Amendment, a group of voters in Minnesota petitioned the state supreme court to keep Trump off the ballot for the Republican presidential primary to be held in March and the presidential election to be held in November.
The court flatly rejected the bid to keep Trump off the primary ballot.
“There is no state statute that prohibits a major political party from placing on the presidential nomination primary ballot… a candidate who is ineligible to hold office,” Chief Justice Natalie Hudson said in a four-page order.
The court said it could consider the general election claim at a later date if Trump indeed ends up winning the Republican presidential nomination and another petition is filed.
A Colorado court is currently hearing a similar lawsuit seeking to bar Trump from the election on 14th Amendment grounds.
Whatever the outcome, the case is likely to end up before the US Supreme Court, where conservatives hold a 6-3 majority.
The 77-year-old Trump is to go on trial in Washington in March on federal charges of conspiring to overturn the results of the November 2020 election won by Democrat Joe Biden.
He faces similar charges in a separate case in the southern state of Georgia.
Trump was impeached for a second time by the House of Representatives after the attack on the Capitol — he was charged with inciting an insurrection — but was acquitted by the Senate.
Trump has hit back at the efforts to remove him from the presidential ballot, saying they have “no legal basis.”
“Like Election Interference, it is just another ‘trick’ being used by the Radical Left Communists, Marxists, and Fascists, to again steal an Election,” he said in a post on his Truth Social platform.