The former president has filed a legal appeal challenging the Maine secretary of state’s decision to keep him off the ballot
Former US President Donald Trump has begun a court fight to get himself back on this year’s election ballot in Maine, arguing in a legal filing that a state official had no authority to disqualify him from the race.
Trump’s lawyers filed the appeal on Tuesday in Maine Superior Court, challenging last week’s decision by Secretary of State Shenna Bellows to bar the ex-president from the ballot because of his alleged role in the January 2021 US Capitol riot. The case is likely to ultimately be decided by the US Supreme Court – along with Trump’s disqualification from the ballot in Colorado – but he was required in Maine to begin his challenge in the state court system.
The ruling making Trump ineligible in Maine “was the product of a process infected by bias and pervasive lack of due process,” Trump’s lawyers said in Tuesday’s filing. They added that Bellows has a documented history of her bias against Trump and gave him no opportunity to defend himself against her allegations.
The Maine and Colorado disqualifications were based on interpretations of a constitutional amendment that banned people who engage in an “insurrection or rebellion” from holding public office in the US. The amendment was passed by lawmakers in 1866 to ensure citizenship and constitutional rights for former slaves and to block politicians who had taken part in the Confederate rebellion from returning to power.
Bellows and other Democrats have accused Trump of inciting the Capitol “insurrection” to block the transfer of power after he lost to Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election. She has made public statements on social media calling Trump an “insurrectionist” and suggesting that he should have been removed from office after being impeached for his alleged role in the riot. Trump has claimed that the election was rigged, but he has denied any role in triggering the riot.
Trump is polling as, far and away, the leading candidate for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination. However, his candidacy is jeopardized by state efforts to disqualify him, as well as felony indictments in four separate criminal cases. He has called the legal actions a politically motivated “witch hunt” to block voters from being able to elect him again.
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