Trump’s Legal Battle: Fighting Disqualification from Maine’s Primary Ballot

Former President Donald Trump is waging a legal battle to reclaim his spot on Maine’s 2024 primary ballot, challenging a decision based on the 14th Amendment that currently bars him from running. This appeal, filed in Maine Superior Court, is Trump’s latest maneuver in a broader legal struggle concerning his eligibility for the presidency in the wake of the January 6, 2021 insurrection.

Trump’s attorneys argue that Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellows, a Democrat, acted with bias and without proper legal authority in her decision to disqualify him. They contend that Bellows made multiple errors in law and failed to provide lawful due process. However, Bellows stands by her decision, expressing confidence in her judgment and the rule of law.

This legal skirmish in Maine parallels a similar conflict in Colorado, where Trump was also removed from the primary ballot. The Colorado Republican Party has petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to review this decision, with a legal challenge initiated by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) and representing GOP and unaffiliated voters.

CREW president and CEO Noah Bookbinder emphasizes that Trump’s actions on January 6 unequivocally disqualify him under the 14th Amendment, as determined by the Colorado Supreme Court. The case’s urgency is underscored by the upcoming primary elections, with Bookbinder urging the U.S. Supreme Court for a prompt review to provide clarity on Trump’s eligibility.

Complicating the legal landscape is the involvement of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, whose wife, Ginni Thomas, participated in efforts to overturn the 2020 election. Congressional Democrats have called for Thomas to recuse himself from the Colorado case and any similar ones, citing a conflict of interest.

Both Bellows and Colorado Democratic Secretary of State Jena Griswold have faced threats due to their decisions to disqualify Trump, highlighting the charged atmosphere surrounding these cases.

In defense of Bellows’ decision, Laurence Tribe, emeritus professor at Harvard Law School, and Dennis Aftergut, a former federal prosecutor, argues in a Boston Globe opinion piece that her decision is a model of how a public official should exercise authority within the U.S. Constitution’s federal system. They remind us that the fair interpretation and application of the law is entrusted to executives as much as to judges and that the U.S. system for electing presidents explicitly empowers state legislatures to determine how each state’s selection is to be made.

Trump’s appeal in Maine and the impending review of the Colorado Supreme Court’s ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court are more than just legal battles; they are a test of the constitutional framework governing presidential elections. These cases are pivotal in determining how far the reach of the 14th Amendment extends and how the nation addresses the aftermath of the Capitol insurrection in terms of electoral eligibility. As these legal proceedings unfold, they will undoubtedly shape the political landscape heading into the 2024 elections, setting precedents for future cases involving candidate eligibility and the role of state authorities in enforcing constitutional provisions.