On Friday, the Supreme Court granted cert for former President Donald Trump’s appeal of the Colorado Supreme Court’s decision to block him from the state’s ballot.
In light of this, the former president has now requested that the Maine Superior Court postpone its consideration of Secretary of State Shenna Bellows’ decision on the same question until after the Supreme Court weighs in on the matter.
Filed Sunday, the motion to stay argues that because the issues currently pending before the Supreme Court closely mirror those set to be considered by Maine’s Superior Court, the state court ought to postpone consideration of the case until the nation’s top judicial authority offers its opinion.
On January 2, Former President Trump took action in the Maine Superior Court to appeal Secretary Bellows’ decision to remove him from the state’s primary ballot.
Bellows argued in her ruling that former President Trump engaged in insurrection on January 6, 2021 and is thereby disqualified from serving as President under Section Three of the Fourteenth Amendment, which 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.
On these grounds, the Secretary concluded that the former president’s “primary petition is invalid,” consequently preventing him from appearing on the 2024 Republican presidential primary ballot in Maine.
“I conclude,” Bellows wrote in her official decision, “that the record establishes that Mr. Trump, over the course of several months and culminating on January 6, 2021, used a false narrative of election fraud to inflame his supporters and direct them to the Capitol to prevent certification of the 2020 election and the peaceful transfer of power.”
In his appeal, Trump argued not only against Bellows’ interpretation of the law and Constitution, but also in opposition to her authority and eligibility to weigh in on the issues presented to her.
More specifically, the former president suggested in his appeal that a Secretary of State does not have the “legal authority” to review the “constitutional issues” central to the challenges made against him.
Trump also made the case in his appeal that Bellows in particular ought to have recused herself from the proceedings on account of a bias against the former president, “as demonstrated by a documented history of prior statements prejudging the issue presented.”
The motion to stay filed by the former president on Sunday asks the Superior Court of Maine to “vacate its January 5, 2024, Procedural Order, setting forth a briefing schedule in this matter, and stay all further proceedings until such time as the Supreme Court issues a dispositive order in [the Colorado case].”
One critical question addressed in the motion is whether or not postponing its ruling beyond the “statutorily-prescribed deadlines” would cause the court to lose jurisdiction over the matter.
According to the arguments presented by Trump’s legal team in the motion, this would not be the case. In fact, the filing points out that neither Bellows nor the Colorado District Court “complete[d] their respective hearings within statutorily-prescribed deadlines” but were not prevented from exercising their power as a consequence.
“Like the Maine Secretary of State and like the Colorado District Court, this Court may extend [the] statutory deadline by issuing a stay,” the motion concludes.
The filing also goes into detail concerning several of the specific matters that are likely to be settled by the Supreme Court and their expected impact on the Maine case.
“In many ways, the current litigation is wholly unnecessary, unless President Trump is unsuccessful on all issues raised in the U.S. Supreme Court,” the motion says. “And ‘courts have ample authority to stay useless litigation.'”
“Likewise, the Secretary’s improper decision to consider a Section 3 challenge under Maine law will also be rendered moot if President Trump is successful before the U.S. Supreme Court,” the motion continues.
The former president’s legal team recognizes the possibility that the Supreme Court may rule in Trump’s favor but still leave “the door open” for Bellows to “consider a Section 3 claim against another presidential candidate,” but asserts that “there has been no claim against any other presidential candidates, and the possibility of any such future claim would be pure speculation.”
The motion to stay also argues that although the former president has asked the Superior Court to weigh in on Bellows’ alleged bias concerning the issues at hand in this case, should the Supreme Court rule in Trump’s favor, “her bias [would be rendered] a moot point.”
It is also suggested in the motion that staying the Superior Court proceedings would “not create any harm” because the timeline as it currently stands will already result in Trump’s name appearing on the state’s primary ballot.
As of the publication of this article, it still remains to be seen how the Maine Superior Court will rule on the former president’s request.
The Superior Court is currently expected to render its decision in the case by January 17 — the “statutorily-prescribed deadline” referenced by Trump in his motion to stay.
Oral arguments at the Supreme Court are scheduled for February 8, but it is not yet clear how long it will take the justices to come to a decision and release their opinion.