Originally Published: 25 JAN 24 09:42 ET
By Colin McCullough and Marshall Cohen, CNN
(CNN) — The Maine Supreme Judicial Court declined to weigh in on whether former President Donald Trump should be removed from the state’s ballot, rejecting a request that they decide on the question now.
The ruling leaves in place a prior judge’s decision that froze the state-level proceedings until the US Supreme Court issues its ruling in a similar case from Colorado, which found that Trump is ineligible to hold public office based on the 14th Amendment’s “insurrectionist ban.” Oral arguments are scheduled in that case for February 8.
Maine is the second state to remove Trump’s name from the ballot, after Colorado’s Supreme Court declared Trump ineligible for the presidency using similar reasoning. Other judges and election officials across the country have dismissed related anti-Trump challenges on procedural grounds.
Maine’s Secretary of State Shenna Bellows, a Democrat, had reached the same conclusion and barred Trump from the Republican primary ballot. Trump appealed in state court, and last week, a judge paused the proceedings, pending the outcome of the Colorado case. But Bellows appealed the freeze to Maine’s highest court, and asked the justices to immediately decide whether Trump is disqualified due to his role in the January 6, 2021, insurrection. The high court on Wednesday unanimously declined to take up the appeal.
“There is at least as great a risk of additional process and delay if we consider this appeal and reach an ostensibly final decision, and then the (US) Supreme Court’s decision makes additional court or administrative action necessary to comply with the federal law,” the ruling said. “… Given the high level of uncertainty, the Secretary of State has not identified a concrete and irreparable harm arising from our decision not to review this matter immediately.”
Bellows said in a prior filing to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court that the lower court’s decision to stay the former president’s removal from the ballot pending a decision from the US Supreme Court “is contrary to the statutory design and would sow public confusion.”
The Supreme Judicial Court argued the contrary in its opinion.
“The Secretary of State suggests that there is irreparable harm because a delay in certainty about whether Trump’s name should appear on the primary ballot will result in voter confusion. This uncertainty is, however, precisely what guides our decision not to undertake immediate appellate review in this particular case,” the court wrote.
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Maine Supreme Judicial Court
**This image is for use with this specific article only** In this April 2018 photo, Justice Andrew M. Mead, third from right, asks a question during a hearing in the Maine Supreme Judicial Court in Portland, Maine. The Maine Supreme Judicial Court declined to weigh in on whether former President Donald Trump should be removed from the state’s ballot, rejecting a request that they decide on the question now.
Robert F. Bukaty/AP/File
25 Jan 24