Maine Invalidates Trump’s Primary Election Petition. Escalating a national legal effort to disqualify former President Donald Trump from office and following Colorado’s top court disqualifying Trump from the state primary ballot on Dec. 19, making him the first candidate in U.S. history to be deemed ineligible for the presidency for engaging in insurrection, Maine has become the second state to disqualify Trump from a state’s 2024 primary ballot, citing the 14th Amendment’s “insurrectionist ban” due to his role in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol. Critics argue this is a victory to enforce constitutional provisions against anti-democratic insurrectionists.
Trump’s critics claim they are enforcing a constitutional provision aimed at safeguarding the country from anti-democratic insurrectionists. Critics have accused Trump of inciting violence by spreading false claims about voter fraud during the 2020 elections. Then, he urged his supporters to march on the Capitol to stop lawmakers from certifying the vote.
The Maine decision builds on the momentum that Trump’s critics have claimed after the Colorado ruling. Still, most legal experts believe the US Supreme Court will settle the issue for the entire country.
With a 6-3 conservative majority, the highest court currently has three Trump nominees.
Maine Decides Ballot
Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellows has ruled against Trump following a bipartisan challenge filed during an administrative hearing.
In a statement, Bellows wrote, “The oath I swore to uphold the Constitution comes first above all, and my duty under Maine’s election laws … is to ensure that candidates who appear on the primary ballot are qualified for the office they seek.”
Bellows added, “I do not reach this conclusion lightly.” She continued, “Democracy is sacred … I am mindful that no Secretary of State has ever deprived a presidential candidate of ballot access based on Section Three of the Fourteenth Amendment. I am also mindful, however, that no presidential candidate has ever before engaged in insurrection.”
Maine’s Top Election Official’s Decision
PICTURE: Portrait of Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellows. PHOTO: COURTESY OF: Creative Commons. (Dated 2014)
Bellows deemed it her legal duty to uphold the 14th Amendment’s insurrectionist ban and remove Trump from the primary ballot.
Arguing that the challengers presented compelling evidence that Trump orchestrated the January 6 insurrection, Bellows ruled that the candidate’s declaration on the form is false as he is not qualified to hold off the President under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, citing the US Constitution’s reluctance to tolerate such an assault.
“I find the declaration on his candidate form is false because he is not qualified to the hold office of the President under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment [of the U.S. Constitution],” Bellows stated in her decision.
“The record establishes that Mr. Trump, over the course of several months and culminating on January 6, 2021, used a false narrative of election fraud to inflame his supporters and direct them to the Capitol to prevent certification of the 2020 election and the peaceful transfer of power,” Bellows wrote. “I likewise conclude that Mr. Trump was aware of the likelihood for violence and at least initially supported its use given he both encouraged it with incendiary rhetoric and took no timely action to stop it.”
Allowing for an appeal of the decision, Bellows suspended her ruling until the state Superior Court ruled. Prior to the courts considering disqualification, Bellows, who oversees elections in Maine, had to make an initial determination.
Read the Bellows 34-page written ruling here.
The Maine and Colorado decisions, based on the 14th amendment section 3, will intensify the Supreme Court’s responsibility to resolve nationwide questions regarding Trump’s eligibility.
Trump faces numerous disqualification lawsuits under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, which prohibits individuals who swore an oath to support the Constitution from engaging in insurrection or rebellion.
In spite of this, the provision is unclear about how the ban should be enforced.
The 14th Amendment states: “No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice-President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any state, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.”
Legal scholars suggest Trump should apply the clause due to his attempt to overturn the 2020 election and obstruct peaceful power transfer, a clause rarely used or tested on the presidency.
Trump Campaign Responds
Trump’s campaign plans to file a legal objection in state court to prevent the “atrocious” decision from taking effect.
In a statement, Steven Cheung, a Trump campaign spokesman, called Bellows’ decision an “attempted theft of an election and the disenfranchisement of the American voter,” accusing Bellows of being a “virulent leftist” who has now “decided to interfere in the presidential election.”
Cheung added, “Democrats in blue states are recklessly and un-Constitutionally suspending the civil rights of the American voters by attempting to summarily remove President Trump’s name from the ballot.”
He continued, “Make no mistake, these partisan election interference efforts are a hostile assault on American democracy. Biden and the Democrats simply do not trust the American voter in a free and fair election and are now relying on the force of government institutions to protect their grip on power.”
In a statement, former lawmakers Kimberley Rosen, Thomas Saviello, and Ethan Strimling praised Bellows. They said that Bellows promoted democracy and the Constitution by barring Trump from Maine’s ballot. They continued, stating that Bellows “stood on the side of democracy and our constitution in her decision to bar former President Donald Trump from Maine’s ballot.”
Rosen and Saviello are former Republican state senators, while Strimling is a former Democratic state senator.
Maine Republican Party Rejoinder
The Maine Republican Party compared the ruling to an assault on democracy.
Maine GOP claims Bellows, once considered the most progressive Senate candidate, has unilaterally removed Donald Trump from the ballot.
“The Maine Republican Party has been fighting these backroom elites since they started their push to subvert democracy by tossing President Trump. Rest assured we’ll be fighting this in court — all the way to the Supreme Court if necessary. And we reserve our right as a private organization to use a caucus system if that’s what it takes to keep a Democrat Hack Secretary of State from infringing on the Rights of Maine voters.”
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