Second state bars Trump from US presidential primary ballot over Capitol riots

By Isaac M December 30, 2023

Maine’s top election official has disqualified Donald Trump from the state ballot in next year’s US presidential primary election – making it the second state to bar the former president over the Capitol riots.

Maine secretary of state Shenna Bellows ruled that Mr Trump incited an insurrection when he spread false claims about voter fraud in the 2020 election and then urged his supporters to march on the Capitol on 6 January 2021.

“I do not reach this conclusion lightly,” Ms Bellows wrote in her 34-page decision, which follows Colorado’s banning of the former president earlier in December.

“I am mindful that no secretary of state has ever deprived a presidential candidate of ballot access based on Section 3 of the 14th Amendment,” she said. “I am also mindful, however, that no presidential candidate has ever before engaged in insurrection.”

The ruling, which can be appealed to a state court, applies only to the March primary election, but it could affect Mr Trump’s status for the November general election.

It will likely add to pressure on the US Supreme Court to resolve questions about Mr Trump’s eligibility nationwide under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, which prohibits anyone who swore an oath to support the Constitution and then “engaged in insurrection” against it from holding office.

The Maine case will almost certainly wind its way up to the Supreme Court

This is an indicator of what the coming year will look like: court cases of varying types and levels across the land, all with Donald Trump at their heart.

It’s a hint of chaotic twists, turns and fault lines in America’s political journey which are impossible to predict. But in this particular case don’t read too much into it, yet.

Maine is the second state to bar him from their state ballot, following the stunning ruling in Colorado. They are, for the moment at least, outliers though

Most courts tasked with citizen-led cases brought to try to disqualify Trump have sided with him. Recent cases in Michigan, Arizona and Minnesota all went in the former president’s favour.

The Maine case, following the Colorado ruling, will increase pressure on the federal Supreme Court in Washington to weigh in.

It is the highest court in the land and must surely rule on this unprecedented constitutional quandary.

The nine justices of the Supreme Court already look set to determine so many aspects of the 2024 race.

Even before that, Trump’s team will appeal the Maine Secretary of State’s decision, which is administrative in nature.

It will go first to a trial court in the state (which doesn’t have appeal courts) and then depending on that outcome, it could go to the state’s Supreme Court.

So the legal process here hasn’t really begun.

Despite that though – these decisions and the headlines they generate only serve to rile Mr Trump’s supporters, and many Republicans more widely, underlining the view that the so-called establishment is out to get Mr Trump.

On the ‘establishment plot’, it’s important to remember that in Colorado, the case to bar Mr Trump was brought by Republican and unaffiliated voters, not ‘establishment’ Democrats. Hardly a Democrat witch-hunt.

For the nation though huge jeopardy surrounds all this.

Legal due process and judicial interpretation of the constitution of an unprecedented nature is taking place in a highly partisan and fractious political environment.

The optics of it all could determine how all this is interpreted and plays out. It will be seen by many as an attempt to remove an opponent even if it is not.

Mr Trump has been indicted in both a federal case and in Georgia for his role in trying to overturn the 2020 election but he has not been charged with insurrection related to the 6 January attack.

His lawyers have disputed that he engaged in insurrection and argued that his remarks to supporters on the day of the 2021 riot were protected by his right to free speech.

The Trump campaign said it would file an objection to the “atrocious” decision made by Maine’s secretary of state.

“We are witnessing, in real-time, the attempted theft of an election and the disenfranchisement of the American voter,” campaign spokesman Steven Cheung added in a statement.

On 19 December, Colorado became the first state to disqualify Mr Trump from its primary ballot, making him the first candidate in US history to be deemed ineligible for the presidency for engaging in insurrection.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Colorado bars Trump from ballot

Mr Trump has vowed to appeal the Colorado ruling to the Supreme Court.

Read more:
All you need to know about Trump’s legal labyrinth
After removal from the Colorado ballot, what happens next?

Similar attempts to disqualify Mr Trump in other states have been rejected.

The top court in Michigan, a pivotal battleground state in the general election, declined on Wednesday to hear a case seeking to disqualify Mr Trump from the state’s presidential primary ballot.

Click to subscribe to the Sky News Daily wherever you get your podcasts

Maine is rated as likely Democratic by non-partisan election forecasters, meaning that President Joe Biden is expected to win the state.

But Mr Trump captured one electoral vote from Maine in both the 2016 and 2020 elections due to an unusual set-up that allows the state to split its four Electoral College votes.

Candidates must win 270 Electoral College votes to win the presidency.


Leave a Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *