Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellows has received significant — and, at least to some extent, bipartisan — criticism for her decision this week to exclude former President Donald
Trump from the state’s 2024 presidential primary ballot.
Using an argument similar to that cited by a narrow majority of the Colorado Supreme Court, Bellows unilaterally concluded that the then-president disqualified himself by supposedly engaging in an “insurrection” ahead of the Jan. 6, 2021, protest on Capitol Hill.
Even CNN legal analyst Elie Honig criticized Bellows for the manner by which she arrived at her decision.
So even CNN’s senior legal analyst is saying that Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellows’ ruling removing Trump from the ballot was based off of things she saw on YouTube clips and would never pass the bar in normal court
Also she’s not even a lawyer
— Benny Johnson (@bennyjohnson) December 29, 2023
For his part, U.S. Rep. Jared Golden (D-ME) issued a statement denouncing the secretary of state’s ruling despite his apparent agreement with her position on the matter.
“I voted to impeach Donald Trump for his role in the January 6th insurrection,” he wrote. “I do not believe he should be re-elected as President of the United States. HOwever, we are a nation of laws, therefore until he is actually found guilty of the crime of insurrection, he should be allowed on the ballot.”
Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), one of only seven Republican senators who voted to impeach Trump in February 2021, offered a similar assessment this week.
“Maine voters should decide who wins the election — not a Secretary of State chosen by the Legislature,” read a statement attributed to Collins’ press office. “The Secretary of State’s decision would deny thousands of Mainers the opportunity to vote for the candidate of their choice, and it should be overturned.”
The Trump campaign has already indicated that it would appeal Bellows’ ruling.
“We will quickly file a legal objection in state court to prevent this atrocious decision in Maine from taking effect, and President Trump will never stop fighting to Make America Great Again,” declared campaign spokesperson Steven Cheung.
Prior to Bellows’ ruling, Trump’s attorneys issued a letter citing her prior remarks on social media as a reason that she should recuse herself from the case.
“Because the Secretary has exhibited a personal bias in this matter, she should disqualify herself from further proceedings,” they wrote.
One example came in the wake of the impeachment vote, when Bellows wrote: “The Jan 6 insurrection was an awful attempt to overthrow the results of a free and fair election. Today 57 Senators including King & Collins found Trump guilty. That’s short of impeachment but nevertheless an indictment. The insurrectionists failed, and democracy prevailed.”