Two of Maine’s constitutional officers are reviewing whether former President Donald Trump is eligible to appear on the presidential ballot in Maine.

Secretary of State Shenna Bellows and Attorney General Aaron Frey, both Democrats appointed by the Democratic-controlled Legislature, cited “14th Amendment election law questions” in a written statement Thursday, but didn’t mention Trump by name.

“As Maine’s Chief Election Official and Chief Legal Officer, we swear oaths to defend the Constitution and the laws of our nation and state, and we take that responsibility very seriously,” they said.

“Our offices are working together to research and analyze the legal requirements for ballot access, including presidential ballot access, as we do prior to every major election. Any decisions about ballot access will be made dispassionately at the proper time in accordance with the laws and the Constitution, which will be our sole consideration.”

A spokesperson for Bellows said the review was preemptive and not in response to any specific legal challenge about Trump’s eligibility. But it comes as challenges have been raised in other states.

A spokesperson for Trump’s 2024 campaign did not respond to an email seeking a response to the review.


Joel Stetkis, chairman of the Maine Republican Party, said party leaders will follow the evaluation closely.

“If any shenanigans begin we’re prepared to take action to defend any and all of our candidates,” Stetkis said in a prepared statement. “Mainers should be able to vote for their preferred Republican against Joe Biden – as we’ve seen, Biden and his policies are deeply unpopular here because he’s doing a very bad job.”

Trump, the clear front-runner in the Republican primary, faces four indictments, including one stemming from his role in the Jan. 6 riot that aimed to stop the certification of the 2020 election results and another in Georgia accusing him of seeking to overturn the election results. His other indictments involve charges that he mishandled classified information after leaving office and paid hush money to an adult film star.

Trump critics and legal scholars, including two professors active in the conservative Federalist Society, are arguing in states around the country that the 14th Amendment prohibits Trump from running for office because of his role in the Jan. 6 riots at the U.S. Capitol.

The 14th Amendment prohibits anyone who has taken the oath of office to uphold the U.S. Constitution from holding public office if they “have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof.” Congress can waive that prohibition by a two-thirds vote.

Republicans in New Hampshire are clashing over whether Trump qualifies for the first-in-the-nation primary, which has not yet been scheduled. Maine’s primary elections are scheduled for March 5.


Two prominent constitutional law professors, William Baude and Michael Stokes Paulson, have argued in a 126-page research paper that Trump and others who played a role in the Jan. 6 riot are disqualified from holding office. Both are active in the Federalist Society, a conservative group that adheres to the original meaning of the Constitution.

“The bottom line is that Donald Trump both ‘engaged in’ ‘insurrection or rebellion’ and gave ‘aid or comfort’ to others engaging in such conduct, within the original meaning of those terms as employed in Section Three of the 14th Amendment,” the pair argued.

“If the public record is accurate, the case is not even close,” they continued. “He is no longer eligible to the office of presidency, or any other state or federal office covered by the Constitution. All who are committed to the Constitution should take note and say so.”

The pair also pushed back on arguments that voters alone should decide whether Trump should return to office, saying that provision of the Constitution is “not optional.”

“It is true, as we have said, that limiting democratic choice is not something to be done lightly, but it is something the Constitution does, and for serious reasons,” they wrote. “The Constitution cannot be overruled or disregarded by ordinary election results.”

The research paper, “The Sweep and Force of Section Three,” which is slated to be published in the University of Pennsylvania Law Review, adds momentum to efforts from left-leaning activists who are seeking to get Trump’s name removed from the ballot.


So far this year, Free Speech for People has sent letters to election officials in 15 states, including New Hampshire and Massachusetts, arguing that Trump is ineligible to hold office under the 14th Amendment.

While Maine officials have yet to receive a letter this year, the group sent Bellows a similar letter in 2021, urging action well ahead of the 2024 election.

“Rather than wait until the urgency of an impending election, we urge you to address this critical issue now,” the group wrote two years ago.

Prohibiting Trump’s name from appearing on the ballot is considered a long shot, especially without a conviction. Trump likely would appeal such a decision to the U.S. Supreme Court, where conservatives hold a 6-3 majority, including three justices he appointed.

Free Speech for People tried unsuccessfully to use the same argument to remove several Republicans from the 2022 midterm ballot, including Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia.

A spokesperson for the Maine Democratic Party said she was confident Bellows and Frey would allow the law, not politics, to guide their decision.

“We have full faith and confidence in Secretary Bellows and Attorney General Frey to do their due diligence to look into the arguments made and make a determination that is in full accordance with Maine election law and the Constitution,” Annina Breen said.

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