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Maine disqualifies Trump from presidential primary ballot, citing insurrection clause

Move comes days after Colorado supreme court removes Trump from state primary ballot for same reason

By JAY PATELPublished 7 months ago 4 min read


Maine Joins Colorado in Blocking Donald Trump from Presidential Primary Ballot, Citing Constitutional Clause


In a significant development, Maine has followed Colorado in barring Donald Trump from its presidential primary ballot, invoking a constitutional provision aimed at preventing insurrectionists from holding office. The move by Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellows comes after Colorado's supreme court made a similar decision on December 19, setting the stage for a potential legal battle at the US Supreme Court.

Constitutional Challenge:

Both Maine and Colorado's decisions are based on Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, which prohibits individuals who have "engaged in insurrection" from holding office. This clause, born out of the aftermath of the Civil War, was designed to prevent Confederates from reclaiming power. Legal scholars argue that this clause should apply to Trump due to his alleged role in attempting to overturn the 2020 presidential election and obstructing the peaceful transfer of power.

Maine's Decision and Trump's Campaign Response:

Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellows, a Democrat, examined the case after citizens challenged Trump's eligibility. Bellows concluded that Trump should be disqualified for inciting the January 6, 2021, insurrection. Trump's campaign has vowed to appeal the decision, calling it a "hostile assault on American democracy." Bellows has suspended the effect of her decision pending the state's highest court ruling on any appeal.

National Ramifications:

If the decisions in Maine and Colorado take effect, they would impact only the states' respective primaries in March. However, there is the potential for broader consequences affecting Trump's eligibility for the November 2024 general election. Both states, although Democratic-leaning, play a crucial role in the electoral college, and Trump secured one of Maine's electors in 2020.

National Legal Battle Looms:

Lawsuits in other states, including Minnesota, New Hampshire, and Michigan, have raised similar arguments about Trump's disqualification based on the 14th Amendment but faced dismissals or appeals. The US Supreme Court, with its current 6-3 conservative majority, including three justices nominated by Trump, may ultimately be tasked with resolving the nationwide issue.

Unprecedented Application of Constitutional Clause:

The application of Section 3 of the 14th Amendment to disqualify a presidential candidate is unprecedented, adding a layer of complexity to the legal challenges. The clause, rarely used and untested in the context of the presidency, raises questions about its interpretation and potential implications for future elections.

In a groundbreaking decision, officials in Colorado and Maine have declared Donald Trump ineligible to run for the White House again, citing his role in the January 6 attack on the US Capitol. The rulings, based on the rarely invoked insurrection clause of the US Constitution, may carry significant legal and political implications for the 2024 election.

Constitutional Basis - The Insurrection Clause:

The decisions, rooted in Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, commonly known as the insurrection clause, mark the first instance of a candidate being deemed ineligible for the presidency under this constitutional provision. The clause prohibits individuals who engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the Constitution from holding federal and state offices.

Legal Scholars' Argument:

Legal scholars argue that the post-Civil War clause could apply to Trump due to his alleged involvement in attempting to overturn the 2020 presidential election and obstructing the peaceful transfer of power. The clause, ratified in 1868, aimed to prevent former Confederate officials from regaining power.

Colorado's Landmark Decision:

The Colorado Supreme Court, in a 4-3 decision earlier this month, removed Trump from the state's Republican presidential primary ballot. This historic ruling is the first instance of a candidate being disqualified for the White House based on the insurrection clause. Trump's campaign has pledged an immediate appeal to the US Supreme Court, setting the stage for potential legal battles.

Maine Follows Suit:

Following Colorado's decision, Maine's Secretary of State, Shenna Bellows, ruled on Thursday to exclude Trump from the state's presidential primary ballot, aligning with the insurrection clause. The move is expected to further intensify legal challenges and political repercussions.

Potential Legal Showdown at the US Supreme Court:

Trump's campaign, asserting the decisions as a "hostile assault on American democracy," plans to appeal to the US Supreme Court. Similar lawsuits in other states are progressing through the courts, making the potential for a national legal showdown imminent.

Historical Context and Rare Application:

The insurrection clause, rarely used in such high-profile cases, was last employed in 1919 when Congress refused to seat a socialist who allegedly aided the country's enemies during World War I. Last year, a New Mexico judge utilized the clause to bar a county commissioner involved in the January 6 Capitol riot from office.

Election Ramifications:

While the rulings currently impact only the state primaries in Colorado and Maine, they hold broader implications for the 2024 election. The decisions may influence other states where similar cases are pending, and the US Supreme Court's potential intervention could shape the constitutional interpretation of the insurrection clause in the context of presidential candidacy.

Political Fallout and Trump's Response:

The political fallout from these decisions is anticipated to be substantial. Trump allies are likely to frame the rulings as an attempt to thwart the will of the American people, while Democrats may view it as a necessary safeguard against potential threats to democracy. Trump's attorneys argue that the 14th Amendment's language does not apply to the presidency.

Uncertain Road Ahead:

As legal battles unfold and the US Supreme Court potentially weighs in, the road ahead remains uncertain. The decisions in Colorado and Maine could either bolster a wider disqualification effort or face challenges on procedural and technical grounds. The unfolding events will shape the legal and political landscape leading up to the 2024 election.


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