Maine bans Donald Trump from primary ballot

Maine’s Democratic secretary of state unilaterally removed former President Donald Trump from the state’s presidential primary ballot Thursday under the U.S. Constitution’s insurrection clause, becoming the second state to bar Mr. Trump from the 2024 ballot.

The decision by Secretary of State Shenna Bellows, coming as the U.S. Supreme Court prepares to decide on his eligibility, is the first time a state election official has barred Mr. Trump from running.

Her decision follows a 4-3 ruling earlier this month by the Colorado Supreme Court removing Mr. Trump from the GOP primary, to be held on March 5, an order that also cited Section 3 of the 14th Amendment.

The Colorado decision has been stayed until the U.S. Supreme Court decides whether Mr. Trump is barred by the Civil War-era provision, which prohibits those who “engaged in insurrection” from holding office.

“I do not reach this conclusion lightly,” Ms. Bellows wrote in her 34-page decision.

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

The Trump campaign said it would appeal Ms. Bellows’ decision through Maine’s state court system, and it is likely that the nation’s highest court will have the final say on whether Mr. Trump appears on the ballot there and in the other states.

Campaign spokesman Steven Cheung said the decision in Maine amounted to “partisan election interference efforts [and] a hostile assault on American democracy.”

“Biden and the Democrats simply do not trust the American voter in a free and fair election and are now relying on the force of government institutions to protect their grip on power,” Mr. Cheung said in a statement. “We are witnessing, in real-time, the attempted theft of an election and the disenfranchisement of the American voter.”

He said state courts in Michigan and Minnesota have rejected “these bad-faith, bogus 14th Amendment ballot challenges, as have federal courts in New Hampshire, Arizona, Florida, Rhode Island, West Virginia.”

Ms. Bellows found that Mr. Trump could no longer run for president because his role in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol is covered under Section 3, which was passed shortly after the Civil War and bans from office those who “engaged in insurrection.”

She made the ruling after some state residents, including a bipartisan group of former lawmakers, challenged Mr. Trump’s position on the ballot.

Her ruling said that Mr. Trump bore responsibility for the attack on the Capitol.

“Trump’s occasional requests that rioters be peaceful and support law enforcement do not immunize his actions,” she wrote. “A brief call to obey the law does not erase conduct over the course of months.”

While Maine has just four electoral votes, it’s one of two states to split them.

Mr. Trump won one of Maine’s electors in 2020, so having him off the ballot there should he emerge as the Republican general election candidate could have outsized implications in what is expected to be a tight race. That’s in contrast to Colorado, which Mr. Trump lost by 13 percentage points in 2020.

The Trump campaign spokesman called Ms. Bellows “a former ACLU attorney, a virulent leftist and a hyper-partisan Biden-supporting Democrat who has decided to interfere in the presidential election on behalf of Crooked Joe Biden.”

This article is based in part on wire-service reports.

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