A Single Dem Official Just Booted Trump Off The Ballot. What Happens Next?

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Democratic Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellows’ Thursday ruling that former President Donald Trump is ineligible to appear on the state’s ballot makes it all but certain the Supreme Court will have to take up the issue, legal experts said.

Shortly after the Colorado Supreme Court determined Trump is ineligible under the Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, which prevents individuals who take an oath to the Constitution and then engaged in insurrection from holding office, Bellows issued a ruling also blocking Trump from the state’s ballot. The ruling by Bellows — who is not a lawyer — is likely to be quickly appealed and ultimately force the Supreme Court to decide on Trump’s eligibility to avoid a situation where he appears on the ballot in some states and not others.

Bellows anticipated judicial review of her decision, pausing it until the Maine Superior Court can weigh in on any appeal. Her ruling makes it more likely the Supreme Court will take up an appeal of the Colorado Supreme Court’s decision to remove Trump from the ballot, which the state’s Republican Party filed on Wednesday.

CNN senior legal analyst Elie Honig said Thursday that Bellows’ decision was based on “things that would never pass the bar in normal court.”

“She based her ruling on a lot of documents, but also YouTube clips, news reports, things that would never pass the bar in normal court.” Honig said. “She’s not a lawyer, by the way. It’s a smartly written decision, clearly consulted with lawyers, but this is an unelected– she’s chosen by the state legislature. Chosen, elected by the legislature, but not democratically elected.”

George Washington University Law professor Jonathan Turley said Thursday the value in the decision “is not found in its persuasive analysis but its practical implications for the Supreme Court.” (RELATED: Colorado Secretary Of State Urges SCOTUS To ‘Quickly’ Rule Against Trump)

“The ‘decision’ is a litany of conclusory statements consistent with Bellows’ prior public condemnations of the ‘insurrection’ and Trump,” he said. “It will now be subject to judicial review where Maine judges will hopefully show the same fealty to the constitution as other courts in rejecting this theory.”

Trump asked Bellows Wednesday to disqualify herself from deciding on the issue given her past public statements demonstrating she “already concluded that President Trump engaged in insurrection.”

“While I discussed how Colorado could seek to moot the current challenge after Jan. 5th, Maine shows why the [Supreme Court] needs to rule quickly, clearly, and hopefully unanimously in rejecting this pernicious theory,” Turley said.

As a result of the Colorado Republican Party’s appeal, Trump will be included on the ballot at the state’s Jan. 5 certification deadline, unless the Supreme Court says otherwise.

“Coming on the heels of the Colorado ruling, the Maine decision (especially if upheld by state courts), makes it more likely that additional states will disqualify Trump,” George Mason University Law professor Ilya Somin wrote for Reason. “That, in turn, makes it more likely the Colorado decision will be reviewed by the US Supreme Court (the Colorado GOP has already asked the Court to take the case).”

“If the federal Supreme Court doesn’t definitively resolve the issue, we are likely to end up with a situation where Trump is barred from the ballot in some states, but not others,” Somin continued.

University of California, Los Angeles professor and election law expert Rick Hasen similarly noted that the decision makes it “almost a certainty that SCOTUS will have to address the merits sooner or later.”

“When you put the Colorado decision together with the Maine one, it is clear that these decisions are going to keep popping up, and inconsistent decisions reached (like the many states keeping Trump on the ballot over challenge) until there is final and decisive guidance from the U.S. Supreme Court,” he wrote.

California’s Democratic Secretary of State Shirley Weber opted to keep Trump on the state’s primary ballot Thursday. Likewise, the Michigan Supreme Court declined Wednesday to remove the former president from the state’s ballot, writing it was “not persuaded that the questions presented should be reviewed by this Court.”

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