February 29th, 2024

Maine judge delays decision on removing Trump from ballot until Supreme Court rules in Colorado case

By David Sharp And Nicholas Riccardi, The Associated Press on January 17, 2024.

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) – A Maine judge on Wednesday paused an election official’s decision on former President Donald Trump’s ballot status to allow time for the U.S. Supreme Court to rule on a similar case in Colorado.

Trump’s lawyers appealed in state court when Secretary of State Shenna Bellows removed the Republican front-runner from the presidential primary ballot but then asked the judge to pause proceedings to allow the U.S. Supreme Court to rule on the Colorado case, which could render the lawsuit moot.

Superior Court Michaela Murphy denied Trump’s request to stay the proceedings, but she sent the case back to the secretary of state with instructions to await the outcome of the U.S. Supreme Court case before issuing a new ruling withdrawing, modifying or upholding her original decision.

In her decision, the judge said that the issues raised in the Maine case mirror the issues raised in the Colorado case before the U.S. Supreme Court. She wrote that her decision “minimizes any potentially destabilizing effect of inconsistent decisions and will promote greater predictability in the weeks ahead of the primary election.”

Bellows concluded last month that Trump didn’t meet ballot qualifications under the insurrection clause in the U.S. Constitution, citing his role in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol. She became the first election official to ban Trump from the ballot under the 14th Amendment.

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. Activists conducted a campaign urging election officials to bar Trump under the clause.

Bellows, a Democrat, delayed implementation of her decision pending the outcome of the court cases. She said she would follow the rule of law and abide by any legal decision.

Bellows was the first election official to conclude that Trump didn’t meet ballot qualifications. She made her ruling a week after Colorado became the first state to bar Trump from the ballot, although the decision in that state, too, has been paused pending the outcome of its appeal in the nation’s highest court. The U.S. Supreme Court scheduled arguments for Feb. 8.

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