The state Supreme Court will hear oral arguments Nov. 2 on the bipartisan constitutional challenge to former President Donald Trump's presence on the 2024 presidential ballot.
The court released a schedule Wednesday with a timeline for all sides to file written arguments before the hearing, a quick pace that recognizes the incredible time sensitivity of the legal petition filed by the national group Free Speech for People, former Secretary of State Joan Growe, former state Supreme Court Justice Paul H. Anderson and others.
Their argument is that the U.S. Constitution's 14th Amendment, Section 3 bars Trump from being on the ballot because of the former Republican president's support for the Jan. 6, 2021, protest at the U.S. Capitol that sought to negate Democratic President Joe Biden's electoral victory.
The petition challenging Trump was filed last week; the respondents have until Sept. 27 to file their initial counterpetitions.
The court's order, written by Chief Justice Lorie Gildea, agreed to allow the state Republican Party to step in as a respondent to the petition. The Trump campaign and Secretary of State Steve Simon are also respondents. Simon will be represented by Attorney General Keith Ellison's office.
State GOP Chairman David Hann has said the petition hinges on what he called a fringe legal theory. "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 court's latest order notes the need for speed. Minnesota has a presidential nominating primary on March 5, 2024, for parties to determine major party candidates. The names for the ballot must be submitted to Simon's office no later than 63 days before the primary, a deadline of Jan. 2. Absentee voting begins Jan. 19.
Simon has said the petition requires a swift decision by the court so the presidential election is unclouded. Similar petitions have been filed elsewhere and Simon has said he expects the issue of Trump's eligibility for the ballot to be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.
The court specifically directed the petitioners, represented by Charles Nauen and others, to file briefs by Oct. 4 regarding their legal standing and timeliness of their petition, whether Section 3 is self-executing, whether it precludes a person from being president and whether it applies to a former president.
The final written petitions and responses, including supportive briefs from outside parties, are due no later than Oct. 20. Oral arguments will be at 10 a.m. in the courtroom at the State Capitol, but Gildea won't be there.
The chief justice is retiring from the court Oct. 1. When arguments are heard in November, Justice Natalie Hudson will be chief. Karl Procaccini, who was appointed by Gov. Tim Walz last month, will be on the bench for the hearing and the decision.
The order said Justice Margaret Chutich didn't participate in the decision and it's unclear if that means she won't hear arguments or decide the case. Justices are not required to explain their recusals.