Maine Secretary of State Defends Decision
In a controversial move that has stirred up a heated debate, Maine’s Secretary of State, Shenna Bellows, has ruled that former President Donald Trump is ineligible to appear on the state’s ballot for future federal elections. Bellows cited Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, which prohibits individuals who have “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” against the United States from holding federal elected office.
Bellows, in an interview with NPR, emphasized that her ruling was based solely on upholding the Constitution and not on personal political views. She stated, “I swore an oath to uphold the Constitution, and that is what I did.”
The decision to bar Trump from the ballot came after a hearing was held in response to registered voters challenging his qualification. Bellows explained that under Maine law, any registered voter has the right to challenge a candidate’s qualification. In this case, five voters, including two former Republican state senators, initiated the challenge.
Rationale Behind the Ruling
Bellows carefully reviewed the evidence presented at the hearing, particularly focusing on the events of January 6th and the violence that transpired at the US Capitol. She concluded that the violence occurred with the knowledge and support of the outgoing president, referring to it as an “attack not only upon the capital and government officials, but also an attack on the rule of law, on the peaceful transfer of power.”
She further stated, “The United States Constitution does not tolerate an assault on the foundations of our government. And under Maine election law, I was required to act in response.”
Criticism and Response
Trump’s supporters, along with some GOP officials and even liberal Democrats, criticized Bellows’ decision, considering it an overreach. Democratic Representative Jared Golden, who voted to impeach Trump for his involvement in the January 6th riot, expressed his disagreement, stating that voters should have the ability to vote for Trump until he is proven guilty of the crime of insurrection.
Bellows responded to her critics by emphasizing that the Constitution does not require a conviction to bar someone from the ballot. She directed people to read her decision and Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, which does not mention the need for a conviction or impeachment. She also clarified that the decision is part of Maine’s legal process, which includes further review by higher courts.
Legal Battle and Timeline
Bellows suspended the implementation of her decision until it undergoes a court review, which is expected to happen in Maine Superior Court, then the Maine Supreme Judicial Court, and potentially even the US Supreme Court. The timeline is tight, with a resolution expected before January 20th, the deadline for military and overseas voters to receive their ballots for Maine’s presidential primary on March 5th.
Bellows expressed hope for a Supreme Court decision to clarify Trump’s eligibility to run for president, stating that Maine would welcome such a resolution. She acknowledged the time constraints on the courts and expressed optimism that a resolution will be reached.