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Donald Trump removed from Maine primary ballot by secretary of state

Maine barred Donald Trump from the primary ballot Thursday, becoming the second state to block the former president from running again because of his actions before and during the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.

The decision by Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellows (D) is sure to be appealed. The Colorado Supreme Court last week found Trump could not appear on the ballot in that state under a part of the U.S. Constitution that prevents insurrectionists from holding office. The Colorado Republican Party has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review the case, which could resolve for all states whether Trump can run again.

Both states have temporarily put their decisions on hold so Trump can pursue appeals.

In 1868, three years after the end of the Civil War, the United States adopted the 14th Amendment to the Constitution to provide legal protections to those who had formerly been enslaved. Section 3 of the amendment barred those who had sworn an oath to the Constitution from holding office if they engaged in insurrection. That provision was used at the time to keep former Confederates out of office but has rarely been mentioned in recent decades.

Trump’s critics cited that section of the Constitution after the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, arguing Trump had incited and participated in an insurrection through his actions before and during the riot. They submitted challenges to his candidacy around the country.

So far, only Colorado and Maine have sided with those challenging his ability to run again. Trump, for the time being, is slated to appear on their primary ballots because those decisions are temporarily on hold.

“The events of January 6, 2021 were unprecedented and tragic,” Bellows wrote in Thursday’s decision. “They were an attack not only upon the Capitol and government officials, but also an attack on the rule of law. The evidence here demonstrates that they occurred at the behest of, and with the knowledge and support of, the outgoing President. The U.S. Constitution does not tolerate an assault on the foundations of our government, and [Maine law] requires me to act in response.”

Trump campaign spokesman Steven Cheung said Trump would quickly appeal the Maine decision.

“Democrats in blue states are recklessly and un-Constitutionally suspending the civil rights of the American voters by attempting to summarily remove President Trump’s name from the ballot,” Cheung said in a statement. “Make no mistake, these partisan election interference efforts are a hostile assault on American democracy.”

Colorado, Maine and more than a dozen other states hold their primaries on March 5, which is also known as Super Tuesday. Election officials need firm answers on who can appear on ballots weeks before then so they can print ballots and mail them to absentee voters, including ones who are overseas.

The challenges to Trump’s candidacy have focused on primaries because Republicans won’t choose their nominee until states hold their nominating contests and the party holds its national convention in July. If Trump’s ability to run has not been resolved by then, attention would shift to the general election.

Trump’s opponents have targeted their efforts to states where it is easiest to object to a candidate’s eligibility. In Maine, voters filed their challenges under a state law that allows them to lodge objections with the secretary of state. Bellows held an eight-hour-long, live-streamed hearing on those challenges on Dec. 15 under a provision of that law and determined Thursday that Trump’s name cannot appear on Maine’s primary ballot.

Bellows cited the Colorado decision in reaching her conclusion that the Jan. 6 attack “was violent enough, potent enough, and long enough to constitute an insurrection.” And Trump, she said, incited that insurrection by repeatedly and falsely claiming the election was stolen, summoning his supporters to Washington, telling them to “fight like hell” in a speech just as Congress was preparing to certify Joe Biden’s win, and criticizing Vice President Mike Pence on social media as the attack unfolded.

Trump, she wrote, “used a false narrative of election fraud to inflame his supporters and direct them to the Capitol to prevent certification of the 2020 election and the peaceful transfer of power.” Trump, she added, “was aware of the likelihood for violence and at least initially supported its use given he both encouraged it with incendiary rhetoric and took no timely action to stop it.”

Trump has five days to appeal the determination to Maine’s Superior Court. From there, the appeal could go to the state’s Supreme Judicial Court and the U.S. Supreme Court.

During the hearing, Bellows did not offer hints on how she was leaning and asked attorneys to weigh in on whether they believed she had the authority to prevent Trump’s name from appearing on the ballot. The Colorado Supreme Court issued its decision four days after Bellows held her hearing, and she allowed Trump and the challengers to file briefs responding to the ruling and say whether it should influence her thinking about whether Trump should appear on the ballot in Maine.

Maine’s legislature chose Bellows as secretary of state nearly three years ago. She previously served as a state senator and executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Maine. She was defeated in a 2014 run against Sen. Susan Collins (R).

On Wednesday, a day before Bellows issued her ruling, attorneys for Trump asked her to disqualify herself from the case because of past comments she made about Jan. 6. In social media posts in 2021, she called the riot at the U.S. Capitol an insurrection and said she supported Trump’s impeachment for the attack.

In Thursday’s decision, Bellows stated that Trump filed his request too late and that she would have remained on the case even if he had filed it earlier because she could handle the case impartially.

The high courts in Minnesota and Michigan recently allowed Trump’s name to appear on the primary ballot in those states. In California, the secretary of state certified his name on Thursday, despite a request from the state’s lieutenant governor to consider excluding him on constitutional grounds. Meanwhile, challengers have asked the Oregon Supreme Court to review the issue. And a Texas tax consultant running a long-shot presidential campaign has lost a string of challenges to Trump’s candidacy that he has filed in federal courts around the country.

The most closely watched court, however, is the U.S. Supreme Court. The Colorado Republican Party filed its request for review on Wednesday, and Trump is expected to do the same soon.

This post appeared first on The Washington Post

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