The Michigan Supreme Court on Wednesday paved the way for Donald J. Trump to appear on the state’s primary ballot, a victory for the former president in a battleground state.
The state’s top court upheld an appeals court decision that found that the former president could appear on the ballot despite questions about his eligibility to hold elected office because of his attempts to overturn the 2020 election.
The Michigan decision followed a bombshell ruling by the Colorado Supreme Court, which on Dec. 19 determined in a 4-3 opinion that Mr. Trump should be removed from the state’s 2024 Republican primary ballot for his role in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol by a pro-Trump mob.
Mr. Trump applauded the Michigan ruling in a statement posted on his social media platform, Truth Social.
“We have to prevent the 2024 Election from being Rigged and Stolen like they stole 2020,” the statement said.
Ron Fein, the legal director of Free Speech For People, a group seeking to have Mr. Trump disqualified from running in the 2024 election, said the Michigan Supreme Court ruled narrowly, sidestepping the core questions at the heart of the case. The decision, he said, leaves the door open to challenge whether Mr. Trump can appear on the general election ballot in Michigan.
“The Michigan Supreme Court did not rule out that the question of Donald Trump’s disqualification for engaging in insurrection against the U.S. Constitution may be resolved at a later stage,” Mr. Fein said in a statement.
Michigan’s primary will be held Feb. 27.
The question of Mr. Trump’s eligibility is widely expected to be answered by the U.S. Supreme Court. Some form of challenge to Mr. Trump’s eligibility has been lodged in more than 30 states, but many of those have already been dismissed.
The challengers’ arguments are based on Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, which disqualifies anyone from holding federal office if they “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” against the Constitution after having taken an oath to support it.
A lower-court judge previously decided the ballot eligibility case in Mr. Trump’s favor. Judge James Robert Redford of the Court of Claims in Michigan ruled in November that disqualifying a candidate through the 14th Amendment was a political issue, not one for the courts. A lower court in Colorado had also ruled in Mr. Trump’s favor before the Supreme Court there took up the case.
Judge Redford also ruled that Michigan’s top elections official does not have the authority alone to exclude Mr. Trump from the ballot. Free Speech for People, a liberal-leaning group that filed the lawsuit, appealed the ruling, asking the state Supreme Court to hear the case on an accelerated timetable.
Jocelyn Benson, the Michigan secretary of state and a Democrat, echoed the request for a quick decision, citing approaching deadlines for printing paper primary ballots. She wrote that a ruling was needed by Dec. 29 “in order to ensure an orderly election process.”
Jan. 13 is the deadline for primary ballots to be sent to military and overseas voters; absentee voter ballots must be printed by Jan. 18. The state’s presidential primary is set for Feb. 27.
Mitch Smith contributed reporting.