Trump asks Maine judge for pause to let US Supreme Court rule on ballot access

The High Court has scheduled arguments in the Colorado case and Trump’s lawyers argue the issues are ‘identical to the federal issues raised’ in Maine case

Donald Trump
Former U.S. President and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump campaigns, in Clinton, Iowa, U.S., January 6, 2024.CHENEY ORR (REUTERS)

Former President Donald Trump on Monday asked a state judge to halt proceedings on ballot access in Maine to allow the U.S. Supreme Court time to rule on a case out of Colorado in which Trump was kicked off the ballot over his role in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Maine Democrat Shenna Bellows last month became the first secretary of state in history 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.

In Colorado, the state supreme court reached the same conclusion in a 4-3 decision, and that case already has been appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court by Trump’s attorneys.

The U.S. Supreme Court has scheduled arguments in the Colorado case, and Trump’s lawyers asked a Maine Superior Court judge to pause the state proceeding because issues before the Supreme Court are “identical to the federal issues raised in this case, the resolution of which may be dispositive of this matter.”

The Supreme Court will be considering for the first time the meaning and reach of a provision of the 14th Amendment. The Constitution’s Section 3 has been barely used since the years after the Civil War, when it kept defeated Confederates from returning to their former government positions. The two-sentence clause says that anyone who swore an oath to “support” the Constitution and then engaged in insurrection cannot hold office unless a two-thirds vote of Congress allows it.

In Maine, Bellows invoked the provision less than two weeks ago but she said she would abide by whatever the courts decide. Her decision is on hold for the time being, pending the outcome of litigation. Trump’s attorneys contend, among other things, that she should have recused herself.

Republicans are furious over her decision, and a Maine House Republican lawmaker proposed an impeachment resolution. The House could take up the matter as soon as Tuesday. But the impeachment effort is a longshot because Democrats control both chambers of the Maine Legislature.

Bellows has called the impeachment effort a sham and political theater. “I have confidence in my decision and confidence in the rule of law,” she said previously.

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