Maine's Supreme Court refuses to hear Donald Trump's ballot case

 January 25, 2024

Maine's highest court declined to intervene in the dispute over whether former President Donald Trump should be included on the state's primary ballot, opting to uphold a judge's decision that defers the matter to the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling on a similar case in Colorado.

Secretary of State Shenna Bellows, a Democrat, had determined that Trump did not meet the ballot qualifications based on the insurrection clause in the U.S. Constitution.

The situation

A judge had temporarily set aside this decision, awaiting the U.S. Supreme Court's verdict on the Colorado case.

In a unanimous decision, the Maine Supreme Judicial Court dismissed Bellows' appeal, affirming the requirement to await the U.S. Supreme Court's decision before taking any action on Trump's inclusion or exclusion from the primary ballot scheduled for Super Tuesday.

“The Secretary of State suggests that there is irreparable harm because a delay in certainty about whether Trump’s name should appear on the primary ballot will result in voter confusion. This uncertainty is, however, precisely what guides our decision not to undertake immediate appellate review in this particular case,” the court said.

The court emphasized that the potential voter confusion resulting from the delay in determining Trump's ballot status was the very uncertainty guiding their decision not to engage in immediate appellate review.

Now what?

Bellows' initial decision in December, declaring Trump ineligible under the 14th Amendment's insurrection clause, marked her as the first election official to bar the Republican frontrunner from a primary ballot. A similar conclusion was reached by the Colorado Supreme Court.

With Maine's March 5 primary rapidly approaching, the timelines are critical. Overseas ballots have already been dispatched, and the U.S. Supreme Court is set to hear arguments on the Colorado case on Feb. 8.

Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, which prohibits those who "engaged in insurrection" from holding office, has never been ruled on by the nation's highest court.

Some legal scholars have argued that this post-Civil War clause is applicable to Trump for his alleged role in attempting to overturn the 2020 presidential election and inciting his supporters to storm the U.S. Capitol after his loss to Democrat Joe Biden.

Trump reacts

Trump contends that Bellows should have recused herself, alleging bias against him. He argues that her actions disenfranchised Maine voters as part of a broader effort to keep him off the ballot.

Bellows, elected by the Democratic-controlled Legislature, maintains that state law obligated her to make a determination in response to challenges against Trump's eligibility and pledges to abide by the court's ultimate ruling.

Trump's next shot in the ballot battle is at the Supreme Court level that comes as he continues to move forward to secure the GOP nomination for a rematch against President Joe Biden.

" A free people [claim] their rights, as derived from the laws of nature."
Thomas Jefferson
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