Maine bars Trump from presidential primary ballot

Maine took a decision on Thursday, barring Donald Trump from the state’s upcoming presidential primary election, marking the second state to do so in response to his involvement in the January 6, 2021, Capitol attack.

Secretary of State Shenna Bellows, a Democrat, made the call, citing Trump’s alleged incitement of insurrection by spreading baseless claims about election fraud in 2020 and encouraging supporters to disrupt the Capitol’s certification of the vote.

Bellows, in a comprehensive 34-page decision, emphasized the constitutional importance of safeguarding governmental integrity. However, the ruling is subject to appeal in the state Superior Court, with Bellows temporarily suspending the decision pending the court’s review.

Trump’s campaign expressed swift opposition, intending to challenge what they labeled an “outrageous” ruling. His legal team contends that his speech on the day of the riot was protected under free speech rights and denies any engagement in insurrection.

The disqualification effort arose following a group of former Maine lawmakers invoking a constitutional provision preventing individuals from holding office if they partook in “insurrection or rebellion” after swearing allegiance to the United States.

Former lawmakers Kimberley Rosen, Thomas Saviello, and Ethan Strimling commended Bellows for upholding democracy and the constitution by disqualifying Trump from Maine ballot. Notably, Rosen and Saviello were Republican state senators, while Strimling represented the Democratic Party.

While the ruling impacts Maine’s primary election, its potential ramifications for the November general election remain uncertain. There’s speculation that this decision might push the U.S. Supreme Court to address Trump’s eligibility nationwide under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment.

Trump, despite facing federal charges related to attempts to overturn the 2020 election, has not been formally charged with insurrection in connection to the Capitol attack. Nevertheless, he maintains a significant lead in Republican nomination polls.

In a precedent-setting move, Colorado previously disqualified Trump from its primary ballot on similar grounds, prompting Trump to vow a Supreme Court appeal and criticize the challenges to his candidacy as undemocratic.

Efforts to disqualify Trump in other states, like Michigan, have been unsuccessful. Maine status as a likely Democratic state in elections indicates an anticipated victory for President Joe Biden, although Trump secured an electoral vote from the state in both the 2016 and 2020 elections due to its unique Electoral College setup.

Various advocacy groups and anti-Trump voters have mobilized challenges under the 14th Amendment’s Section 3, aimed at preventing former Confederates from holding office. Bellows, overseeing Maine’s elections, was required to make an initial determination on disqualification before judicial review.

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