Maine’s top court Wednesday evening declined to weigh in on whether former President Donald Trump can stay on the state's ballot, keeping intact a judge's decision that the U.S. Supreme Court must first rule on a similar case in Colorado.
Democrat Shenna Bellows concluded that Trump didn’t meet ballot qualifications under the insurrection clause in the U.S. Constitution, but a judge put that decision on hold pending the Supreme Court's decision on the similar case in Colorado.
In a unanimous decision, the Maine Supreme Judicial Court dismissed Bellows' appeal of the order requiring her to await the U.S. Supreme Court decision before withdrawing, modifying or upholding her decision to keep Trump off the primary ballot on 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.
Bellows’ decision in December that Trump was ineligible made her the first election official to ban the Republican front-runner from the ballot under the 14th Amendment. In Colorado, the state supreme court reached the same conclusion.
The timelines are tight as Maine's March 5 primary approaches. The U.S. Supreme Court is hearing arguments on the Colorado case on Feb. 8, and Maine has already begun mailing overseas ballots.
The nation’s highest court has never ruled on Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, which prohibits those who “engaged in insurrection” from holding office. Some legal scholars say the post-Civil War clause applies to Trump for his role in trying to overturn the 2020 presidential election and encouraging his backers to storm the U.S. Capitol after he lost to Democrat Joe Biden.
Trump contends Bellows should have recused herself, and that she was biased against him. Trump said her actions disenfranchised voters in Maine, and were part of a broader effort to keep him off the ballot.
Bellows, who was elected by the Democratic-controlled Legislature, said she was bound by state law to make a determination after several residents challenged Trump’s right to be on the primary ballot. She put her decision on Trump's ballot eligibility on hold pending judicial proceedings, and vowed that she would abide by a court's ultimate ruling.
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