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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Maine’s top court won’t weigh in for now on whether Trump can run

Former president Donald Trump speaks during a watch party in Nashua, N.H., on Tuesday.    (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
By Patrick Marley Washington Post

Maine’s high court has declined for now to review whether Donald Trump can appear on the primary ballot in the state.

Wednesday’s ruling came two weeks before the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments in a similar case out of Colorado that contends that the former president is not eligible to run for office again because of his actions before and during the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol. The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision could resolve the issue for all states.

Section 3 of the 14th Amendment of the Constitution bars from office those who engaged in insurrection after swearing an oath to uphold the Constitution. The amendment was ratified in 1868, and the clause was initially used to keep former Confederates from returning to power after the Civil War.

Trump’s critics have cited the measure in lawsuits that argue that Trump is banned from office because of the Jan. 6 attack. Colorado’s high court last month ruled that Trump should be taken off the primary ballot there, and a week later, Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellows (D) reached the same conclusion.

Both decisions were put on hold while appeals proceed, so for now Trump’s name is slated to appear on the ballots for the March 5 primaries in those states. The U.S. Supreme Court will hear the Colorado case Feb. 8.

Trump appealed Maine’s decision in state court, and a judge last week sent the case back to Bellows, saying she should issue a new decision after the U.S. Supreme Court weighs in.

Bellows appealed that ruling to Maine’s top court, which issued a decision Wednesday saying it was too early for that court to hear the case. The court can’t consider the case until a final decision has been issued by a lower court, and that hasn’t happened yet, the ruling said. There were no noted dissents.

Once the U.S. Supreme Court rules in the Colorado case, Bellows can issue a new decision based on whatever the justices decide. From there, the losing side can appeal to state court.