Maine Supreme Court rejects appeal by state’s top election official, Trump’s ballot eligibility pending

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By Victoria Mangelli

Maine’s Supreme Court has delivered a significant decision, rejecting an appeal by Secretary of State Shenna Bellows regarding her choice to exclude former President Trump from the state’s presidential primary ballot. 

However, this doesn’t settle the matter, as the case has been sent back to Maine Superior Court, awaiting a similar case in Colorado, which is under review by the U.S. Supreme Court.

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Maine Supreme Court dismisses Trump ballot appeal as ‘interlocutory’

In their written decision, the justices adhered to the final judgment rule, emphasizing the necessity for a trial court’s decision to be final before considering an appeal. 

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They stated, “Because the appeal is not from a final judgment, we dismiss the appeal as interlocutory and not justiciable.” 

This rule aims to prevent appellate courts from addressing issues that may eventually become moot.

Maine Superior Court decision delays Trump ballot determination

The Maine Superior Court had ruled on January 17 that the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in the Colorado case could ultimately determine President Trump’s eligibility for office. 

Consequently, Ms. Bellows’ efforts to remove him from the state’s presidential primary ballot are on hold until the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling.

Despite the impending deadlines for finalizing the state primary ballot, the justices were not swayed by the argument for an immediate decision. 

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Court dismisses concerns amid presidential eligibility challenges

They also dismissed concerns about voter confusion during the primary, highlighting that their decision might not be the final word.

Challenges to President Trump’s eligibility have arisen in 30 states, with most state secretaries declining to take an official position. 

However, Ms. Bellows insisted that Maine law compelled her to adjudicate the issue, even if it involved matters of “insurrection.” 

Secretary of State’s controversial ruling on president Trump’s eligibility

She argued that President Trump “knowingly incited an attack on the Capitol to prevent the peaceful transfer of power,” which, in her view, disqualified him from the presidency under Section Three of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Before Ms. Bellows issued her decision, President Trump had requested her recusal, citing her support for his impeachment and her characterization of the January 6, 2021, breach at the U.S. Capitol as an “insurrection.”

Uncertain Fate: Trump’s eligibility and role of state election officials

The outcome of this legal battle remains uncertain, with Ms. Bellows indicating that if the U.S. Supreme Court fails to resolve the issue before Maine’s primary on March 5, she intends to lift the stay, potentially resulting in President Trump’s removal from the ballot, even after early voting has commenced. 

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The case continues to be closely watched as it raises questions about eligibility and the role of state election officials in determining candidates’ qualifications.

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