Politics and Government

Minnesota lawsuit seeks to keep Trump off 2024 ballot

President Donald Trump stands at a podium.
President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in Rochester, Minn.
Kathryn Styer Martinez | MPR News 2020

Updated 7:32 p.m.

Some prominent Minnesotans filed a lawsuit Tuesday asking the state Supreme Court to keep former President Donald Trump's name off the 2024 Minnesota presidential primary and general election ballot.

The lawsuit was filed by a group called Free Speech For People, on behalf of several Minnesota voters including former DFL Secretary of State Joan Growe and former state Supreme Court Justice Paul Anderson.

It contends that Trump is barred by the Constitution’s 14th Amendment from holding another federal elected office because of his role in the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection.

The petitioners in Minnesota say Trump tried to enlist government officials to illegally overturn the 2020 election after swearing to uphold the Constitution when he took office.

“This is a very serious lawsuit. This is not theater. This is not playing politics,” said Ron Fein, legal director with Free Speech for People. “Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, although it’s one that people had not been familiar with until recently, is a critical tool for protecting our republic and our constitutional democracy from the type of person who would send a violent mob to attack Congress to try and prevent the peaceful transfer of power.”

People in several states are pursing similar efforts to keep Trump off the 2024 ballot. Last week, Trump asked a judge to move a similar lawsuit in Colorado from state to federal court.

Other petitioners who signed on to the Minnesota suit include retired University of Minnesota law professor David Fisher, the former co-chair of the Steele County Republican Party David Thul and former St. Paul Deputy Mayor Thomas Welna.

The Minnesota Secretary of State’s Office on Tuesday issued a statement in response to the filing that said, “For the sake of Minnesota’s voters, we hope the court resolves this issue to allow for the orderly administration of the elections in 2024.”

Attorneys representing Free Speech for People said they expect the court will announce next steps in the case within a matter of days. Ultimately, the U.S. Supreme Court will likely have the final say in the matter, whether in dealing with the petition filed in Minnesota, or another state, they said.

Minnesota GOP party chair David Hann provided the following statement to MPR News.

“The Republican Party of Minnesota believes that voters in Minnesota should ultimately decide through voting which candidates are qualified to represent them in public office. The Minnesota Supreme Court should reject this fringe legal theory which is purposefully designed to prevent voters from having a voice in our elections.”

Correction (Sept. 12, 2023): An earlier version of this story misstated Thomas Welna's name

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