Former President Trump on Tuesday appealed a decision kicking him off Maine’s primary ballot to state court, beginning the next phase of the consequential 14th Amendment case.
Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellows (D) disqualified Trump last week, making Maine the second state to rule Trump is ineligible under the 14th Amendment’s insurrection ban.
Trump’s appeal to Kennebec County Superior Court kicks off a speedy timeline, prescribed under state law, to resolve the matter.
The dispute could ultimately reach the U.S. Supreme Court, which is already grappling with a 14th Amendment case that kicked Trump off the primary ballot in Colorado.
In Maine, the judge is required to decide the case within 20 days of Bellows’s decision, which was issued Dec. 28. Bellows’s ruling is on hold until then, meaning Trump’s name will remain on Maine’s ballot in the meantime. Maine’s primary will occur on Super Tuesday, March 5.
Former President Donald Trump speaks during a rally Sunday, Dec. 17, 2023, in Reno, Nev. (AP Photo/Godofredo A. Vásquez)
The losing side could subsequently appeal to Maine’s highest court, with state law allotting two weeks for a decision.
The dispute could then land at the Supreme Court.
“Maine’s Secretary of State went outside of her authority, completely ignoring the Constitution when she summarily decided to remove President Trump’s name from the ballot, interfere in the election, and disenfranchise the voters of her state,” Trump campaign spokesman Steven Cheung said in a statement.
Maine and Colorado have been the only states so far to take the extraordinary step of removing Trump’s name from the ballot, although plaintiffs have filed more than two dozen challenges under the 14th Amendment to Trump’s candidacy nationwide.
The Amendment prohibits someone from holding “any office … under the United States” if they “engaged in insurrection” after taking an oath to support the Constitution.
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Anti-Trump plaintiffs cite the then-president’s actions surrounding the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol attack, contending he incited the riot and is disqualified from returning to the White House. The cases also revolve around several threshold issues, including whether the amendment applies to the presidency and whether state courts and officials have authority to enforce the clause.
“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,” Bellows wrote in her decision.
Beyond arguing he didn’t engage in insurrection, Trump’s new filing argues Bellows had no authority under state law to remove Trump’s name, also contending that the clause doesn’t apply to the presidency anyways and would require legislation from Congress to be enforceable.
“Even if Maine law authorized the Secretary to consider challenges to President Trump’s candidacy under Section Three of the Fourteenth Amendment (which it did not),The Secretary could not properly have considered Section Three and erred as a matter of law in doing so,” Trump’s lawyers wrote in the filing.
Trump and his campaign have broadly attacked the ruling and Bellows herself, with Trump’s lawyers having asked for the secretary of state’s recusal the day before she issued her decision.
“Make no mistake, the Secretary is a partisan Democrat and former ACLU executive who has decided to abuse the authority of her office to help her preferred candidate, Crooked Joe Biden, steal the 2024 election,” Cheung said in his statement. “President Trump will fight these bad-faith attempts to destroy American democracy and he looks forward to victory both in the state courts and in the presidential election this November. It’s time to Make America Great Again!”
Trump has not yet appealed the Colorado decision, although he is expected to do so imminently. The Colorado Republican Party has already appealed separately.
Updated 5:30 p.m.
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