Maine Follows Colorado in Removing Trump From Ballot
Maine’s Secretary of State, Shenna Bellows, has followed Colorado in deciding to remove former President Donald Trump from the 2024 primary ballot, citing the 14th Amendment.
“I do not reach this conclusion lightly…no Secretary of State has ever deprived a presidential candidate of ballot access based on Section Three of the Fourteenth Amendment,” Bellows said. “I am also mindful, however, that no presidential candidate has ever before engaged in insurrection.”
Implications and Legal Responses
Trump is the current Republican frontrunner for the 2024 presidential elections, and his campaign has vowed to appeal the decision.
“Make no mistake, these partisan election interference efforts are a hostile assault on American democracy,” said Steven Cheung, a Trump campaign spokesperson, in a statement, also accusing Bellows of being “a virulent leftist”.
The ruling’s implications stretch beyond Maine, raising debates over constitutional interpretation. Trump’s legal team swiftly announced plans to appeal in state court.
The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to take the case, either after the Colorado GOP’s appeal or Trump’s own appeal.
Key Republican figures rallied behind Trump, criticizing Bellows’ decision as an infringement on democratic processes. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and others expressed solidarity with Trump, fueling further discord.
Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., called Bellows’ ruling an “egregious abuse of power” and said he will introduce legislation “to stop these partisan officials and ensure any constitutional challenge is only decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.”
While some Democrats agreed with the ruling, others believe Trump should be considered innocent until proven guilty.
In a statement, Rep. Jared Golden, D-Maine, noted that he voted to impeach Trump and does not want him to return to the presidency, but added, “we are a nation of laws, therefore until he is actually found guilty of the crime of insurrection, he should be allowed on the ballot.”
Sen. Angus King, an independent, said in a statement that while he respected Secretary of State Shenna Bellows’ “careful process,” he believed “that the decision as to whether or not Mr. Trump should again be considered for the presidency should rest with the people as expressed in free and fair elections.”
“This is the ultimate check within our Constitutional system,” King continued.
Both Maine and Colorado are Democratic-leaning states, which means Joe Biden will likely win in both.
The decisions are based on section 3 of the 14th amendment, which bans from office those who “engaged in insurrection”. The provision, which was instituted after the civil war, was intended to prevent Confederates from retaking power.
Retaliation & Implications
Republican lawmaker John Andrews vowed to pursue Bellows’ impeachment, denouncing her decision as hyper-partisanship and an overreach of authority. This move indicates the intensification of the political standoff in Maine.
Andrews emphasized, “There is bipartisan opposition to the extreme decision made by the secretary of state. She has clearly overstepped her authority.”
Maine’s secretary of state said she has received threats for her move to remove President Trump.
“I was prepared for the possibility of threats, and I really appreciate law enforcement and the people around me who have been incredibly supportive of my safety and security,” Bellows said during a Friday appearance on CNN. “My safety and security is important, so is the safety and security of everyone who works with me and we have received threatening communications.”
“Those are unacceptable,” Bellows continued.
Meanwhile, The Colorado Republican Party initiated an appeal against the state’s Supreme Court decision disqualifying former President Donald Trump from seeking the presidency, a move that could eventually lead to a legal showdown at the U.S. Supreme Court.
This appeal extends the pause on the 4-3 ruling from Colorado’s highest court, delaying its effect until January 4, just before the state’s primary ballots go to print, or until a final decision from the U.S. Supreme Court.
Trump himself intends to appeal the ruling to the nation’s highest court. Colorado’s Secretary of State Jena Griswold affirmed that pending the U.S. Supreme Court’s review or if it upholds the state supreme court’s ruling, Trump will be included as a candidate on the state’s primary ballot.
While Trump’s exclusion from Colorado’s ballot might not heavily impact his campaign due to the state’s previous margin of defeat, it could set a precedent for courts or election officials in other pivotal states to remove him from their ballots.
The U.S. Supreme Court’s involvement in this case looms large, as it has never previously ruled on Section 3 of the 14th Amendment. The court’s decision, whether based on the Colorado GOP’s appeal or Trump’s direct appeal, carries the potential to shape the legal interpretation of insurrection and its implications for electoral eligibility.
Trump currently faces four criminal trials, two of which focus on his efforts to overturn his loss in the 2020 presidential election. He has not been charged with insurrection. Three states, including California on Thursday, have allowed Trump to remain on the ballot.