In a groundbreaking decision, Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellows, a Democrat, has declared former President Donald Trump ineligible to appear on the state’s 2024 Republican primary ballot. The ruling stems from three challenges from Maine voters and politicians questioning the validity of Trump’s nomination petition for the GOP primary.
Bellows upheld two challenges based on Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, citing that Trump is not qualified to hold the office of President. She rejected a challenge related to the 22nd Amendment. In her decision, Bellows stated, “I conclude that Mr. Trump’s primary petition is invalid,” highlighting the false declaration on his candidate consent form.
The Secretary of State further pointed to Trump’s actions, alleging that he used a false narrative of election fraud to incite his supporters and direct them to the Capitol on January 6, 2021, potentially supporting violence. Bellows stated, “The weight of the evidence makes clear that Mr. Trump was aware of the tinder laid by his multi-month effort to delegitimize a democratic election, and then chose to light a match.”
Despite Trump’s occasional calls for peace and support for law enforcement, Bellows emphasized that they did not “immunize his actions.” She acknowledged the unprecedented nature of the case, stating, “I am mindful that no presidential candidate has ever before engaged in insurrection.”
Bellows suspended the effect of her decision until Maine’s Superior Court rules on any appeal, recognizing the compressed timeframe, novel constitutional questions, and impending ballot preparation deadlines. In response, Trump’s campaign spokesperson, Steven Cheung, announced their intent to file a legal objection in state court, criticizing Bellows as a “hyper-partisan Biden-supporting Democrat.”
This ruling places Maine as the second state, after Colorado, to disqualify Trump from seeking the GOP presidential nomination under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment. The Colorado Supreme Court’s decision is currently stayed until January 4, 2024, pending an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court by the Colorado Republican Party. The decision in Maine adds to the growing number of challenges and appeals across approximately 15 states, marking a significant chapter in the legal battles over Trump’s ballot eligibility for the 2024 election.