Maine’s Secretary of State, Shenna Bellows, decided on Thursday that former President Trump cannot run for office or appear on the state’s primary ballot due to his involvement in the January 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol. Bellows, a Democrat, explained that the U.S. Constitution does not tolerate an assault on the government’s foundations, and Section 3 of the 14th Amendment requires her to take action.
Despite the urgency, constitutional complexities, and the case’s significance, Bellows suspended the decision’s effect until the Superior Court ruled on any appeal or the appeal time expires. The ruling allows for an appeal to the Superior Court within five days.
Bellows is the first election official to decide on Trump’s eligibility independently. According to Maine law, voters must first challenge a candidate’s qualifications with the secretary of state, followed by a public hearing where challengers present their case for invalidating the primary nomination.
Bellows acknowledged the unprecedented nature of her decision but emphasized that no Secretary of State had previously denied a presidential candidate ballot access based on Section Three of the Fourteenth Amendment. She highlighted the exceptional circumstances, stating that no presidential candidate had ever engaged in insurrection before.
The Trump campaign expressed its intention to appeal the decision, emphasizing its belief in the attempted theft of an election and the disenfranchisement of American voters.
Earlier, Trump’s lawyers had requested Bellows to disqualify herself, alleging personal bias, but the Maine decision comes in the wake of a similar ruling by the Colorado Supreme Court. Trump’s disqualification in Colorado is currently under appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Bellows considered three challenges to Trump’s primary nomination petition, two based on his alleged engagement in insurrection and ineligibility under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment. The third challenge, citing the 22nd Amendment, argued that Trump, having claimed victory in the 2020 election, should be disqualified.
Following a hearing on December 15, Bellows concluded that there was enough evidence to demonstrate the falsity of Trump’s claim to meet the qualifications for the presidency.
On social media, Senator Susan Collins of Maine expressed that Maine voters, not a Secretary of State appointed by the Legislature, should decide the election’s outcome. She argued that overturning the decision is essential to ensure thousands of Mainers can vote for their preferred candidate.
Several other states are also considering challenges to prevent Trump from appearing on the ballot, although courts in some states have rejected such attempts. The Michigan Supreme Court, for instance, ruled against a challenge this week on procedural grounds, allowing Trump to remain on the primary ballot. The Minnesota Supreme Court, while not barring him from the primary ballot in November, left room for potential challenges if Trump becomes the Republican nominee in the general election.