Maine secretary of state withdraws Trump ballot ban

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Maine’s secretary of state on Monday withdrew her determination that former President Trump should be blocked from the state’s ballot under the 14th Amendment’s insurrection clause after the Supreme Court ruled in Trump’s favor.

“The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that individual states lack authority to enforce Section Three of the Fourteenth Amendment with respect to federal offices,” Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellows wrote in a modified ruling, obtained by The Hill. “Consistent with my oath and obligation to follow the law and the Constitution, and pursuant to the Anderson decision, I hereby withdraw my determination that Mr. Trump’s primary petition is invalid.”

“As a result of the modified ruling, votes cast for Mr. Trump in the March 5, 2024 Presidential Primary Election will be counted,” Bellows continued.

The Supreme Court unanimously ruled earlier Monday that only Congress has the authority to enforce the 14th Amendment to disqualify federal candidates.

Originally designed to keep ex-Confederates from returning to power, the 14th Amendment prevents individuals who took an oath to support the Constitution and then engaged in insurrection from returning to office, unless Congress votes to lift their disqualification.

It fell dormant for decades before anti-Trump voters and groups began filing dozens of lawsuits against Trump in the wake of the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol attack.

In December, Maine became the second state to block Trump from its primary ballots. Colorado was the first state to disqualify Trump, after a group of Republican and independent voters filed a lawsuit backed by the nonpartisan Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW).

The decision made Bellows, a Democrat, the first state official to remove a presidential candidate via the 14th Amendment, as the Colorado decision was made by a court.

“I do not reach this conclusion lightly. Democracy is sacred,” Bellows said at the time.

“I am mindful that no Secretary of State has ever deprived a presidential candidate of ballot access based on Section Three of the Fourteenth Amendment,” she wrote. “I am also mindful, however, that no presidential candidate has ever before engaged in insurrection.”

Bellows wrote in a 34-page decision at the time that Trump “was aware of the tinder laid by his multi-month effort to delegitimize a democratic election, and then chose to light a match.”

She told The Hill in an interview earlier this year that her office was flooded with a “stream of steady, abusive and threatening” messages targeting herself, her staff and her family in the wake of her decision.

The Supreme Court’s decision hands Trump a massive win on the eve of Super Tuesday, where he is expected to close in on clinching the Republican nomination. Both Colorado and Maine will hold their primaries Tuesday.

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