The judge said that under Michigan law, the secretary of state does not have the authority to intervene in a primary election if the party chooses to list a candidate who would not qualify for the office.
“The ultimate decision is made by the respective political party, with the consent of the listed candidate,” the judge wrote.
The decision comes after a group of Michigan voters in September filed a legal challenge to Trump’s candidacy, arguing that his efforts to overturn the 2020 election results and his and conduct surrounding the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot violated Section 3 of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, making him ineligible for office.
The decision by the Michigan Court of Claims did not squarely address or focus on the lawsuit's allegations that Trump “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” after having sworn an oath to support and defend the Constitution — the crux of the petitioners' argument for his disqualification from holding office.
Ron Fein, an attorney for the petitioners, said Tuesday that an appeal was forthcoming.
"While our appeal is pending, the trial court’s decision isn’t binding on any other court, and we continue our current and planned legal actions in other states to enforce Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment against Donald Trump," Fein, the legal director of Free Speech For People, said in a statement.
Tuesday's ruling is another victory for Trump after the Minnesota Supreme Court this month dismissed a similar legal bid to keep him off the state’s primary ballot in 2024.
Trump has dismissed such efforts as “nonsense” and “election interference.”
Steven Cheung, a Trump campaign spokesperson, welcomed the Michigan ruling.
"Each and every one of these ridiculous cases have LOST because they are all un-Constitutional left-wing fantasies orchestrated by monied allies of the Biden campaign seeking to turn the election over to the courts and deny the American people the right to choose their next president," Cheung said in a statement, adding that he anticipated similar wins in other efforts to disqualify Trump's candidacy on the basis of the 14th Amendment.
Top election officials in Arizona, New Hampshire and elsewhere are also weighing concerns similar to those raised in Michigan as they prepare state ballots for next year’s Republican presidential primaries, where Trump is leading in the polls among GOP candidates.