Maine bars Trump from ballot as top US court weighs state powers

Maine's Democratic Secretary of State removes former president Donald Trump from the state's presidential primary ballot under the Constitution's insurrection clause. (Photo/Reuters)

Maine's Democratic Secretary of State has removed former president Donald Trump from the state's presidential primary ballot under the Constitution's insurrection clause, becoming the first election official to take action unilaterally in a decision that has potential Electoral College consequences.

Secretary of State Shenna Bellows concluded on Thursday that Trump, the frontrunner for the Republican nomination in 2024, incited an insurrection when he spread claims about voter fraud in the 2020 election and then urged his supporters to march on the Capitol to stop lawmakers from certifying the vote.

The decision follows a December ruling by the Colorado Supreme Court that booted Trump from the ballot there under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment.

Colorado is a Democratic-leaning state that is not expected to be competitive for Republicans in November.

Bellows' decision came one day after Trump's lawyers asked her to disqualify herself over tweets that they said showed bias.

She called the US Capitol attack an "insurrection" and bemoaned that the US Senate didn't convict Trump after being impeached by the US House.

Bellows won't have the final word on Trump's political career. Her decision can be appealed to Maine's courts. The US Supreme Court is alos expected to make a final decision on whether Trump can still run for president early next year.

Trump to appeal ruling

Activists have asked state election officials across the country to remove Trump from their states' primary ballots under Section 3.

Until Bellows' ruling, all of them rejected the request, often saying they were waiting for courts to give direction on how to interpret the clause, which has been used only a handful of times since the years following the Civil War.

Maine law mandated that Bellows hold a public hearing over the issue, which she did in December.

A lawyer and former executive director of the Maine chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, Bellows allowed each side to submit additional arguments after the Colorado Supreme Court’s historic December 19 decision that Section 3 barred Trump from the ballot.

Trump's campaign has said it will appeal that court's 4-3 ruling to the US Supreme Court, which has never ruled on Section 3.

Whatever the high court decides will apply to every state, including Maine.

The Maine decision shows the potential perils to Trump if the issue is decided on a state-by-state basis. He lost Colorado by 13 percentage points in 2020 and does not need it to win the presidency.

But Maine divides its electoral votes by congressional districts, and Trump has twice won the state's second congressional district.

If he's not on the ballot there, he would start his 2024 campaign down one Electoral College vote.

The secretary of state's office said it's not aware of the office previously striking a presidential candidate from the ballot, but other candidates for lower offices have been removed that way.


Source: TRT