By Enyichukwu Enemanna
Ahead of the US presidential election this year, the country’s former President, Donald Trump on Tuesday filed an appeal against the ruling of Maine’s Democratic Secretary of State barring him from the ballot over his role in the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol.
Trump is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to rule on his eligibility to return to the presidency in a related Colorado case.
The Republican candidate appealed the Maine decision by Shenna Bellows, who became the election official in the rank of secretary of state to bar someone from running for the presidency under the rarely used Section 3 of the 14th Amendment. That provision prohibits those who “engaged in insurrection” from holding office.
Trump’s lawyers are urging the Maine Superior Court to upturn the ruling by Shenna Bellows, a Democrat, calling her a “biased decisionmaker” who “acted in an arbitrary and capricious manner.”
Trump’s appeal declares that Bellows had no jurisdiction in the matter and asks that she be required to place Trump on the March 5 primary ballot. The appeal argues that she abused her discretion and relied on “untrustworthy evidence.”
The Colorado Supreme Court ruled last month that Trump, the frontrunner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, is ineligible to appear on the presidential primary ballot in the western state because of the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution.
Section Three of the 14th Amendment bars anyone from holding public office if they engaged in “insurrection or rebellion” after once pledging to support and defend the Constitution.
The amendment, ratified in 1868 after the Civil War, was aimed at preventing supporters of the slave-holding Confederacy from being elected to Congress or from holding federal positions.
The Republican Party in Colorado has appealed the Colorado Supreme Court ruling to the US Supreme Court, and the Maine case is also expected to eventually make its way to the nation’s highest court.
In her decision, Bellows said the January 6 attack “occurred at the behest of, and with the knowledge and support of, the outgoing President.”
“The US Constitution does not tolerate an assault on the foundations of our government and (Maine law) requires me to act in response,” she said.
Similar 14th Amendment challenges to Trump’s eligibility have been filed in other states as well. Courts in Minnesota and Michigan recently ruled that Trump should stay on the ballot in those states.
The twice-impeached former president is scheduled to go on trial in Washington in March for conspiring to overturn the results of the 2020 election won by Democrat Joe Biden.
He also faces racketeering charges in Georgia for allegedly conspiring to upend the election results in the southern state.