WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, a Maine judge paused Secretary of State Shenna Bellows’ (D) ruling removing former President Donald Trump from the state’s primary ballot until the U.S. Supreme Court decides if Trump is eligible under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment. The decision keeps Trump on the ballot amid his ongoing appeal.
Maine’s constitution allows voters to file candidate eligibility challenges with the secretary of state. Late last year, a pair of challenges were filed by voters attempting to disqualify Trump under the 14th Amendment due to his involvement in the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection. On Dec. 28, 2023, Bellows issued a ruling finding Trump ineligible to hold office of the president under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment and removed him from the state’s Republican presidential primary ballot.
Trump immediately appealed the ruling to state court arguing that the secretary’s ruling is flawed because she is a “biased decision maker”. He also questioned whether she had legal authority to remove him from the ballot.
In today’s order, the court noted that both Trump and the secretary state agreed that the secretary of state’s ruling should be paused pending a final decision from the U.S. Supreme Court in Trump’s appeal of the Colorado Supreme Court’s decision to remove him from the Colorado primary ballot. The court concluded that “there are so many federal issues in Anderson, it would be imprudent for this Court to be the first court in Maine to address them.” The Maine judge also recognized that the involvement of the nation’s highest court “changes everything about the order in which these issues should be decided, and by which court.”
The court sent the case back to the secretary of state and ordered Bellows to wait for the Supreme Court’s decision. After that decision, she must issue a new ruling based on the Court’s order. The U.S Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments in the case on Feb. 8, less than a month before the Maine Republican primary, which is scheduled for March 5.
Trump faces similar challenges to his eligibility in 17 lawsuits across the country. Courts in Michigan and Minnesota have ruled that Trump is eligible to appear on each state’s primary ballot.