Two Democratic officials moved to boot former President Donald Trump off the ballot in their states Thursday, even as one of them acknowledged that voters would be able to select the 2024 Republican front-runner until further notice.
Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold announced that Trump would remain on the ballot until the U.S. Supreme Court decides on the case. The Colorado Supreme Court had ruled in favor of an effort to strike Trump from the ballot under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, but the Colorado Republican Party appealed the decision to the nation’s highest court.
“With the appeal filed, Donald Trump will be included as a candidate on Colorado’s 2024 presidential primary ballot when certification occurs on January 5, 2024, unless the U.S. Supreme Court declines to take the case or otherwise affirms the Colorado Supreme Court ruling,” Griswold’s office announced in a news release. The 2024 Colorado Republican presidential primary is set for “Super Tuesday,” March 5.
Yet the secretary of state urged the Supreme Court to uphold the Colorado court’s decision, insisting that Trump had “engaged in insurrection”—even though the Justice Department has never brought a charge of insurrection against the former president and Trump has never been convicted of such a charge.
“Donald Trump engaged in insurrection and was disqualified under the Constitution from the Colorado ballot,” Griswold said in a statement. “The Colorado Supreme Court got it right. This decision is now being appealed. I urge the U.S. Supreme Court to act quickly, given the upcoming presidential primary election.”
She laid out a timeline for the ballot process, noting that she must certify the names and party affiliations of candidates on the primary ballot by Jan. 5, the same day as a Supreme Court conference. Griswold must send ballots to military and overseas voters on Jan. 20, ahead of the Feb. 26 first day of in-person voting and the March 5 primary, when polls close at 7 p.m. Mountain Standard Time.
Meanwhile, Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellows also moved against Trump on Thursday, striking him from the ballot in the Pine Tree State. She also ruled that the former president was disqualified from appearing on the ballot under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, ruling that he “engaged in insurrection” on Jan. 6, 2021.
THIS IS SHENNA Bellows. The Maine Secretary Of State, who on her own removed Trump from the ballot. For fear that Maine voters will elect him.— Denny Green (@DennyGr28530407) December 29, 2023
She’s made it known she’s running for Governor . This was done for her to campaign off of.
IMPEACH HER !
Paid by SOROS ! pic.twitter.com/00lp9B4dMe
“I am mindful that no secretary of state has ever deprived a presidential candidate of ballot access based on Section Three of the Fourteenth Amendment,” she wrote in the ruling.
“The events of January 6, 2021, were unprecedented and tragic,” Bellows wrote. “They were an attack not only upon the Capitol and government officials, but also an attack on the rule of law. The evidence here demonstrates that they occurred at the behest of, and with the knowledge and support of, the outgoing president. The U.S. Constitution does not tolerate an assault on the foundations of our government, and [Maine law] requires me to act in response.”
She ruled that the people challenging Trump’s ballot access “have met their burden” of proof and “provided sufficient evidence to demonstrate the falsity of Mr. Trump’s declaration that he meets the qualifications of the office of the presidency.”
Like Colorado, Maine is among 16 states holding presidential primaries on March 5.
Bellows also ruled that “because I conclude that Mr. Trump intended to incite lawless action, his speech is unprotected by the First Amendment.”
Bellows, a former Democratic state senator and former executive director of the Maine ACLU, served as an Electoral College elector for Joe Biden in 2020.
The Minnesota Supreme Court and the Michigan Court of Claims dismissed other attempts to disqualify Trump from the ballot under the 14th Amendment. Even California Secretary of State Shirley Weber, a Democrat, certified Trump on the March 5 ballot, despite calls to remove him.
Hans von Spakovsky, a senior legal fellow at The Heritage Foundation, has repeatedly argued that efforts to use the 14th Amendment to disqualify Trump are undemocratic and unconstitutional. (The Daily Signal is the news outlet of The Heritage Foundation.)
Spakovsky argued that Section 3 does not apply to Trump under Supreme Court precedents holding that only an appointed official is an “officer of the United States,” not elected officeholders such as a president. He also noted that no federal court has ever convicted Trump of engaging in “insurrection or rebellion” and that the U.S. Senate acquitted Trump of charges of “Incitement of Insurrection” in the former president’s second impeachment.
Spakovsky also noted that Section 3 allows Congress to remove the disqualification clause “by a vote of two-thirds of each House.” Congress voted to remove the disqualification twice, once in 1872 and again in 1898.
Spakovsky condemned Bellows’ ruling as “the ultimate example of unparalleled arrogance.” He said she asserted “that she has the power to determine that the former president is ‘guilty’ of insurrection when she is not a judge, there have been no criminal charges against him, and he was acquitted of that claim in the impeachment trial held in the U.S. Senate.”
“This is election interference of the worst kind, and she is disenfranchising the voters of her state,” he concluded.
🧵 On today’s decision in Maine to kick Donald Trump off the state’s ballot:— Hans von Spakovsky (@HvonSpakovsky) December 29, 2023
Tyler O’Neil is managing editor of The Daily Signal and the author of “Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center.” Original here. Reproduced with permission.