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Roving Periscope: Another ‘setback’ to Donald Trump’s candidacy in the 2024 US polls

Roving Periscope: Another ‘setback’ to Donald Trump’s candidacy in the 2024 US polls

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Virendra Pandit 

 

New Delhi: After Colorado, Maine became the second US state to throw a spanner in Donald Trump’s attempts to become the President again next year as the US Supreme Court started weighing a State’s authority to block the former President from contesting, the media reported.

Reacting to this latest setback, the Trump campaign said it would appeal the decision to Maine’s state courts.

On Thursday, the US State of Maine blocked Trump from the State’s Republican presidential primary over his alleged involvement in the January 2021 assault on the US Capitol, the state’s top official ruled.

Maine’s top official removed the former President from the State’s presidential primary ballot under the Constitution’s insurrection clause, becoming the first election official to take action unilaterally as the US Supreme Court is poised to decide in January whether Trump remains eligible to continue his campaign.

The decision by Maine’s Secretary of State Shenna Bellows follows a ruling earlier this month by the Colorado Supreme Court that booted Trump out from the ballot there under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment. That decision has been stayed until the US Supreme Court decides whether Trump could be barred by the Civil War-era provision, which prohibits those who “engaged in insurrection” from holding office.

Bellows concluded that Trump, the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination, incited an insurrection when he spread false claims about voter fraud in the 2020 election and then urged his supporters to march on the US Capitol to stop lawmakers from certifying the vote.

“The US Constitution does not tolerate an assault on the foundations of our government,” Bellows wrote in a 34-page ruling.

The decision can be appealed to a state Superior Court, and Bellows suspended her ruling until the court rules on the matter.

Trump’s campaign said it would quickly file an objection to the “atrocious” decision. His lawyers disputed that he engaged in insurrection and argued that his remarks to supporters on the day of the 2021 riot were protected by his right to free speech.

The decision came after a group of former Maine lawmakers said that Trump should be disqualified based on a provision of the US Constitution that bars people from holding office if they engaged in “insurrection or rebellion” after previously swearing an oath to the United States.

The former lawmakers — Kimberley Rosen, Thomas Saviello, and Ethan Strimling — said in a statement that Bellows “stood on the side of democracy and our constitution in her decision to bar former President Donald Trump from Maine’s ballot.”

Rosen and Saviello are both former Republican state senators. Strimling is a former Democratic state senator.

The ruling applies only to Maine’s March primary election, but it could affect Trump’s status for the November 2024 general election. The ruling likely will add to pressure on the US Supreme Court to resolve questions about Trump’s eligibility nationwide under the constitutional provision known as Section 3 of the 14th Amendment.

The court’s 6-3 conservative majority includes three justices nominated by Trump as the US President (2016-2020).

Trump has been indicted in both a federal case and in Georgia for his role in trying to overturn the 2020 election, but he has not been charged with insurrection related to the January 6, 2021, attack. Sidelining other challengers within his party, he leads opinion polls by a large margin in the race for the Republican nomination.

Colorado’s top court disqualified Trump from the state primary ballot on December 19, making him the first candidate in US history to be deemed ineligible for the presidency for engaging in insurrection.

Trump has vowed to appeal the Colorado ruling to the Supreme Court and criticized ballot challenges as “undemocratic.” The Colorado Republican Party filed its own Supreme Court appeal on Wednesday.

Similar attempts to disqualify Trump in other states have been rejected. The top court in Michigan, a pivotal battleground state in the general election, declined on Wednesday to hear a case seeking to disqualify Trump from the state’s presidential primary ballot.

Maine is seen as likely Democratic by non-partisan election forecasters, meaning that President Joe Biden might win the state. But Trump captured one electoral vote from Maine in both the 2016 and 2020 elections because of an unusual setup that allows the state to split its four Electoral College votes.

Candidates must win 270 Electoral College votes to win the presidency.

Advocacy groups and some anti-Trump voters have challenged Trump’s candidacy in several states under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, which was passed after the US Civil War in the mid-19th century to keep former confederates from serving in government.

 

 

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