Attorney Who Helped Spread Trump’s 2020 Election Lies Joins Michigan Supreme Court Race

A Michigan attorney was charged last year in a scheme to gain illegal access to voting machines in the state while former President Donald Trump was challenging the results in 2020. Now that attorney is running for a seat on the state’s highest court.

Constitutional attorney Matthew DePerno, a proponent of the “Big Lie” that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from Trump, said last week on the social media platform X that he’s seeking one of the two seats that are up for grabs this fall on the Michigan Supreme Court.

The Michigan Supreme Court is Michigan’s “court of last resort,” meaning it’s the final stop in the state’s judicial system, and is often tasked with making significant decisions in cases involving voting rights and elections, criminal law and the state and U.S. constitutions. 

The seven-member court has a 4-3 Democratic majority. Liberal Justice Kyra Harris Bolden, who was appointed to the bench by Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to fill a vacancy in 2022, is running to keep her seat, while conservative Justice David Viviano is retiring from the bench.

For the supreme court, political parties hold nominating conventions to select candidates, which is expected to happen this summer. The candidates in the general election run without party labels in what’s intended to be a nonpartisan race.  

“I am going to put a down ballot nonpartisan race in the national spotlight,” DePerno wrote on X in response to another user. The attorney previously ran for Michigan Attorney General and was endorsed by Trump over another GOP candidate seeking to unseat Democratic Attorney General Dana Nessel. Nessel won against DePerno in the 2022 race.

After losing the attorney general race, DePerno announced he was running for chair of the Michigan Republican Party but ultimately lost to fellow Trump supporter and election denier Kristina Karamo in 2023. Karamo was recently ousted from the position by party members. 

DePerno is the latest Trump supporter to seek office after helping Trump and his allies overturn the 2020 election result to keep the former president in office. He was charged last year with undue possession of a voting machine and other felonies as part of an investigation — led by a special prosecutor — into vote machine tampering in the state.

DePerno’s attorney told NPR his client believes the charges are politically motivated. Nessell recused herself from the probe due to the conflict of interest.

In December 2020, as the Trump campaign sought to halt or interfere with the certification of Biden’s win in multiple states, the court denied a bid to stop the certification of Michigan’s results so an investigation could take place into unsubstantiated allegations of voter fraud. Justice Viviano dissented. 

In December of last year, the court affirmed a lower court decision allowing Trump to remain on the ballot and declined to review the question of whether Trump is allegedly ineligible under the 14th Amendment’s Insurrection Clause.