Donald Trump needs to convince the Supreme Court, with a conservative majority, that he deserves to be on the electoral ballot in 2024

The state of Maine joined Colorado in declaring former President Donald J. Trump ineligible to run in the 2024 primary elections. Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellows announced on Thursday (28) that Trump did not meet the eligibility criteria due to his involvement in the attack on the Capitol on January 6, 2020, considering it in violation of the 14th Amendment of the US Constitution.

Bellows’ decision sets a precedent, as no secretary of state has ever denied access to a presidential candidate based on Section 3 of the 14th Amendment. However, Bellows highlighted the seriousness of Trump’s actions, stating: “I am aware that no presidential candidate has ever engaged in an insurrection.” The movement aims to ensure that those who violate their oaths of office do not hold government positions.

Under Maine law, registered voters can challenge a candidate’s ballot access by filing a petition with the secretary of state’s office. The state has received three such challenges to Trump’s eligibility: one from a group of former elected officials and two from individual residents.

While challenges to Trump’s eligibility have been filed in more than 30 states, many of those have already been dismissed. In most cases, these issues are being handled in the courts, but in Maine — due to a quirk in its Constitution — the secretary of state has the say first, with voters filing petitions, not lawsuits. Her decision may later be challenged in the state’s Superior Court.

The Colorado decision was the first in history to disqualify a presidential candidate from a ballot based on the 14th Amendment, written after the Civil War. One section of the amendment bars those who took an oath “to support” the Constitution from holding office if they “participated in insurrection or rebellion” or “gave aid or comfort to enemies.”

The Trump campaign has said it will appeal the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court; If the high court takes up the case, the other nationwide challenges will likely be put on hold.

The California Option

Meanwhile, in California, the election authority decided to keep Trump’s name on the ballot. Election officials in that state have limited power to remove candidates, and the ruling highlights the complexities of that process at the state level.

Trump’s removal from the ballot box is part of a broader campaign, with lawsuits pending in several states. The 14th Amendment’s obscure clause, which disqualifies those who have “engaged in insurrection or rebellion,” is at the heart of these legal challenges.

The challenge in Michigan is also among the most watched. Lawyers on both sides have asked the state Supreme Court to rule by next week, but the court could schedule oral arguments first or wait to see if the U.S. Supreme Court rules on the Colorado case.

Similar lawsuits filed by an unlikely Republican presidential candidate, John Anthony Castro, were rejected by federal judges in Rhode Island, New Hampshire and Florida, and dropped in a dozen other states.

The uncertainty about how to apply this clause raises the need for clarification, especially in light of the upcoming elections. The courts and Congress have thus far not fully clarified how this criterion should be interpreted, leading to calls for the U.S. Supreme Court to step in and provide definitive guidance.

Supreme Court

The Colorado Supreme Court has already ruled that Trump is unelectable based on the 14th Amendment. Trump has promised to appeal, and the Supreme Court’s decision may depend on doctrines such as textualism and originalism. These interpretative approaches, favored by the conservative majority, require a rigorous analysis of the constitutional text and its original meaning.

Key questions, including whether an act of Congress is necessary and whether a state court can rule on the qualifications of a federal candidate, highlight the complexity of this legal challenge. While Maine and Colorado take a firm stance, Trump’s future in the 2024 election remains uncertain, pending judicial rulings and Supreme Court intervention.

Mark Brewer, chairman of the political science department at the University of Maine, said that regardless of what he thinks Trump did, the former president has not been charged with insurrection. “Even if he had been charged, he still hasn’t had his day in court, so in the eyes of the law, he’s not guilty of anything.” Other analysts consider that the Colorado court’s decision changes this equation.

Electoral urgency

Republican primaries in Maine and Colorado are scheduled for March 5, known as Super Tuesday, as many states hold primaries on that day. However, states must begin sending ballots to military service members and voters abroad 45 days before a federal election — on Jan. 20 in the case of the March 5 primary — adding urgency to the situation.

If the Supreme Court agrees to hear Trump’s appeal, the Colorado court’s ruling will not take effect on Jan. 4 as scheduled, and Trump will remain eligible to appear on the ballot there pending the outcome of the appeal, according to Colorado state officials. Colorado.

An appeal would also likely pause other efforts to block it from appearing on ballots across the country. However, it was unclear this week what that would mean in Maine, where the case is progressing out of court.


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