Maine’s highest court dismisses Trump ballot case appeal

(The Center Square) — Maine’s highest court has declined to take up an appeal of a ruling over a move to take former President Donald Trump’s name off the state’s GOP primary ballot.

In a decision issued Wednesday, the Supreme Judicial Court dismissed an appeal by Secretary of State Shenna Bellows, asking justices to overturn a lower court ruling delaying a decision on the ballot challenge. The court said it would be improper to rule on a case that has yet to be decided.

“Because the appeal is not from a final judgment, we dismiss the appeal as interlocutory and not justiciable,” justices wrote in the unanimous decision.

Bellows, a Democrat, issued a ruling earlier this month that pulled Trump’s name from the ballot. She cited a clause of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution that she argued prevents the GOP presidential frontrunner from being elected to a second term due to his involvement in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol.

Trump’s lawyers challenged the ruling, and last week, Kennebec County Superior Court Justice Michaela Murphy issued a stay on the Maine secretary of state’s decision to disqualify Trump from the primary ballot.

Murphy refused to rule on the merits of the legal challenge until the U.S. Supreme Court weighed in on Colorado’s attempt to disqualify the former president.

Trump’s campaign issued a statement praising the Maine high court’s decision not to take up the appeal, saying it dealt a “devastating blow to crooked Joe’s ballot hoax.”

“This disenfranchisement effort, lead by Crooked Joe’s Democrat acolyte and desperate partisan Secretary of State, was soundly rejected by Maine’s Supreme Court in a dismissal of the Secretary’s appeal of a prior order, which kept President Trump on the ballot,” Trump spokesman Steven Cheung said in a statement.

Cheung said Trump is “confident that the United States Supreme Court will ultimately be fair and eliminate these meritless, sham ‘14th Amendment’ cases once and for all.”

Similar ballot battles are playing out in other states, where activists have asked courts and election officials to remove Trump from the ballot over his involvement in the Jan. 6 Capitol attack.

In Massachusetts, a group of activists have asked the Supreme Judicial Court to overturn a ruling by the state’s Ballot Law Commission rejecting a challenge from a group of voters seeking to keep Trump off the state’s March 5 primary ballot.

The 14th Amendment, approved by Congress in 1866 to ensure civil rights for freed slaves, also bars from office anyone who once took an oath to uphold the Constitution but then “engaged” in “insurrection or rebellion” against it. But the post-Civil War clause has seldom been used to keep candidates off the ballot.

Trump has denied wrongdoing in the Jan. 6 attack and pleaded not guilty to criminal charges related to efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election.