Michigan's secretary of state announced she will not attempt to block former President Donald Trump from appearing on the state's 2024 ballots, coming after activists and other groups have sought to disqualify the former president based on a reading of a section of the Constitution's 14th Amendment.
Activists in Michigan and other states have argued that President Trump shouldn't be able to appear on ballots based on Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment, which bars anyone who has taken part in a rebellion against the U.S. government from holding federal or state office. Some scholars have noted that the Fourteenth Amendment, which was ratified right after the Civil War, generally would refer to individuals who fought for the Confederacy more than 150 years ago.
In Colorado, a group called the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington filed court papers in September to bar President Trump from the state's 2024 ballot, and another similar group did the same in Minnesota days later. A federal judge in Florida in August rejected a lawsuit that was filed by three people to bar the former president and ruled that they lacked standing to do so.
Meanwhile, a longshot Republican presidential candidate, John Anthony Castro, a Texas lawyer, filed a lawsuit in New Hampshire weeks ago that seeks to block President Trump from the Granite State's ballot. Mr. Castro later filed paperwork to petition the Supreme Court over the case, and the high court has until early October to decide on whether to take it or not.
Responding to that activity, Mrs. Benson told Axios on Monday that secretaries of state shouldn't get involved.
If we become political actors instead of election administrators, then we risk being a part of, even innocently a part of, the deterioration of democracy in our country," she said, adding that it isn't her office's duty to interpret the rules "in a way that could impact one's ability to run for office."
More Secretaries of State Reject EffortsMeanwhile, it's not the first time that Mrs. Benson has said that the former president will appear on Michigan's ballots during the 2024 presidential primary. The courts should make a decision, she argued.
Mrs. Benson added: "But that view is misguided. Whether Trump is eligible to run for president again is a decision not for secretaries of state but for the courts."
And Mrs. Benson is not the only secretary of state who has signaled they won't attempt to block President Trump from appearing on their state ballots next year. Georgia's Brad Raffensperger and New Hampshire's David Scanlan have publicly stated in recent days it's not happening.
“Invoking the Fourteenth Amendment is merely the newest way of attempting to short-circuit the ballot box,” Mr. Raffensperger, a Republican who has frequently criticized President Trump, wrote for the Wall Street Journal in mid-September. “Since 2018, Georgia has seen losing candidates and their lawyers try to sue their way to victory. It doesn’t work. Stacey Abrams’s claims of election mismanagement following the 2018 election were rejected in court, as were Mr. Trump’s after the 2020 election.”
Around the same time, Mr. Scanlan, a Republican, told reporters there is no state statute in New Hampshire that a candidate in a "new presidential primary can be disqualified using the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution referencing insurrection or rebellion."
“Similarly, there is nothing in the 14th Amendment that suggests that exercising the provisions of that amendment should take place during the delegate selection process held by the different states," he said.
Recent opinion polls suggest that President Trump's lead in the GOP 2024 primary is only growing even as he faces more and more legal trouble in recent days.
An average of polls provided by RealClearPolitics shows that the former president, who has 56.6 percent support, is about 42 points ahead of the survey's second-ranked candidate, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. Since he launched his campaign in, Mr. DeSantis, who stands at about 14.4 percent in the polling aggregator, has failed to make much headway against President Trump, while other GOP candidates have remained in the single-digits.