Meijer urges U.S. Supreme Court to keep Trump on Colorado ballot

Washington — Former U.S. Rep. Peter Meijer was among the Republicans urging the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday to rule in favor of former President Donald Trump on his eligibility for Colorado’s primary election ballot.

Meijer of Grand Rapids Township is running for the GOP nomination for U.S. Senate in Michigan and previously voted to impeach Trump in 2021 following the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol — one of only 10 House Republicans to do so.

The brief filed by Meijer’s attorneys says the decision by the Colorado Supreme Court last month to remove the former president from the ballot under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment is “an affront to the very democracy it purports to protect,” arguing that the courts have no jurisdiction over a political process that Congress created and controls.

If “the Colorado Supreme Court’s opinion stands, political chaos will swiftly ensue. Not only does the opinion ensure the untenable and undemocratic result of excluding former President Trump from consideration as a presidential candidate on some States’ ballots but not others,” the brief states, “the opinion also charts a clear path for arbitrary political pretexts to remove political candidate options from consideration by voters, both in this election with respect to former President Trump, and in countless future elections against candidates on both sides of the aisle.”

The court filing is reminiscent of one that Meijer submitted in November in Michigan in response to lawsuits asking judges to block Trump’s name from appearing on the Feb. 27 presidential primary ballot.

Similar to the Colorado case, Trump opponents in Michigan had filed lawsuits arguing the former president should be disqualified from having his name on primary and general election ballots under the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

More: Michigan court allows Trump on primary ballot, but challenges could resurface for general

That amendment says no one can hold office if they have previously taken an oath to support the Constitution but “engaged in insurrection or rebellion.”

Meijer’s weighing in on the Colorado case is notable given his past disagreements with Trump and his candidacy for the Senate, in which the GOP candidates are jockeying to win the votes of pro-Trump supporters in Michigan.

“January 6 was my third day in Congress. I had to be evacuated from the House chamber after a violent mob stormed the Capitol that day. I considered it then, and consider it now, a dark and shameful day,” Meijer wrote in an opinion piece the day after the Colorado court decision.

“But no federal court has found, nor is the Justice Department even alleging, that Trump is guilty of anything close to insurrection or rebellion. And yet here is the highest court in an American state taking upon itself to conclude a violation of federal statute.”

Michigan’s six Republican members of Congress signed onto a separate friend-of-the-court brief Thursday with nearly 200 congressional Republicans, also asking the justices to side with Trump in the Colorado ballot eligibility case: U.S. Reps. Lisa McClain of Bruce Township, Tim Walberg of Tipton, Bill Huizenga of Holland, John Moolenaar of Caledonia, John James of Shelby Township and Jack Bergman of Watersmeet.

“It is hard to imagine an actual insurrectionist quickly asking for peace and encouraging disbandment,” lawyers for the group wrote, a reference to one of the gestures Trump made that day hours after the attack began.

The brief argued that the Colorado ruling “tramples the prerogatives of members of Congress.” It was led by Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and House Majority Leader Steve Scalise of Louisiana and was signed by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.  

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In Michigan, an appeals court affirmed the ruling by a federal judge that Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson lacked the power under state law to declare Trump ineligible and bar him from appearing on the primary ballot.

Benson, a Democrat, in her own brief to the high court on Thursday said it was “vital” that the justices speak to the central questions of the Colorado case: whether Trump is disqualified from serving as president, and if so, whether a state has the power to exclude him from the primary or general election ballot.

“The Secretary takes no position in this brief as to how these legal issues should be resolved, but for the good of our democracy, the Court should resolve them now,” lawyers for Benson wrote.

“Finality must come now so that the states and their election officials can conduct efficient and meaningful elections. Neither purpose would be served by a decision from this Court that left open questions about the proper application of Section 3.”

Staff writer Craig Mauger contributed.

mburke@detroitnews.com


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