Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellows has delayed issuing a decision on former President Donald Trump’s eligibility to appear on the state’s presidential primary ballot following the Colorado Supreme Court decision earlier this week.
Originally, Secretary Bellows was expected to make a determination by the end of the day on Friday, December 22, but according to a statement shared with the press, she will now be announcing her decision early next week.
During an eight-hour hearing held this past Friday, the Secretary heard arguments from the three parties challenging the former Pres. Trump’s ability to appear on Maine’s presidential primary ballot next year, as well as from Trump’s legal counsel and Rep. Mike Sobeleski (R-Phillips), who filed a letter of intervention in defense of the former president.
A focal point of the hearing was a Civil War era provision in the Constitution — Section 3 of the 14th Amendment — which disqualifies those who have “engaged in insurrection or rebellion,” or provided “aid or comfort” to enemies of the United States from holding a series of elected offices.
Section 3 of the 14th Amendment reads:
No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice-President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.
Throughout the course of these lengthy proceedings, a wide variety of issues were discussed by the parties, ranging from the Secretary’s authority to issue a decision on the matter, to the scope and meaning of Section 3, to the events that transpired on January 6, 2021.
Whereas in Maine, challenges to a potential candidate’s qualifications are resolved through an administrative process, Colorado election law is such that voters must file a lawsuit if they wish to pursue a claim that someone is ineligible to appear on the ballot.
Similar to the administrative challenges filed against the former president in Maine, a lawsuit was brought against Trump in Colorado, alleging that he is ineligible to appear on the ballot because he engaged in insurrection on January 6, 2021.
On Tuesday, the state’s Supreme Court ruled 4-3 in favor of the challengers, barring the former president from being listed as a candidate in the 2024 presidential primary.
This decision marked the first time in United States history that Section 3 of the 14th Amendment has been used to disqualify a presidential candidate.
The court did, however, stay its ruling until January 4, 2024 — the day before the Colorado Secretary of State must certify the content of the presidential primary ballot — pending any potential review by the United States Supreme Court.
If Supreme Court review is sought prior to the January 4, 2024 deadline, the stay will remain in place and the former president’s name will appear on next year’s primary ballot unless an order or mandate requiring otherwise was issued by the Supreme Court.
[RELATED: Colorado SCOTUS Boots Trump Off 2024 Ballot]
Unlike in Colorado, Trump’s eligibility to appear on Maine’s presidential primary ballot is being judged through administrative — as opposed to legal — procedures, and the Secretary of State will ultimately have the final say.
In addition to delaying the issuance of her decision in light of the Colorado ruling, the Secretary has also invited the parties “to file a short supplement to their closing legal briefs addressing the impact, if any, of that decision on this case,” according to the statement shared by the the Secretary’s office.
Bellows has not announced a specific date on which she will be issuing a ruling on Trump’s eligibility to appear on the ballot in 2024, but the Secretary will likely make her decision early next week.