Former President Donald Trump’s campaign has appealed Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellows’ decision to disqualify him from the state’s presidential primary ballot.

A complaint filed in Kennebec County Superior Court on Tuesday says Bellows was a “biased decision maker” who should have recused herself from the decision.

It also says the Maine secretary of state does not have the legal authority to consider the federal constitutional issues presented in complaints seeking to bar Trump from the ballot and, as a result, that Trump will be illegally excluded from the ballot based on Bellows’ decision.

The filing also says that Bellows “made multiple errors of law and acted in an arbitrary and capricious manner.”

Bellows anticipated a challenge and had said her ruling would be suspended until any court appeals could be heard.

“Under Maine law, an appeal of the decision to the Maine Superior Court is the next step in the process laid out in the Maine election law,” Bellows said in a prepared statement Tuesday. “I have confidence in my decision and in the rule of law. Everyone who serves in government has a duty and obligation to uphold the Constitution first above all.”


Bellows ruled last week in response to challenges filed by Maine voters that Trump was not qualified to appear on the March 5 primary ballot under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, which prohibits people from holding office if they “have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the (Constitution), or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof.”

One of the attorneys representing the Maine voters who filed one of the ballot challenges heard by Bellows was confident the court will affirm her decision.

“Trump’s attorneys have offered a strained reading of Maine statute to match their equally strained reading of the U.S. Constitution – a reading which was already rejected by the Colorado Supreme Court,” Benjamin Gaines said in an email Tuesday night. “The secretary had a duty to hear this challenge and delivered a well-reasoned decision that we are confident will be affirmed.”

“We expect that after the Superior Court affirms the secretary’s decision, Trump will appeal to the (Maine) Law Court. What happens after that is contingent on the timing of the Colorado case, but it’s certainly possible that this could be headed to the U.S. Supreme Court,” Gaines said.

The complaint Trump’s campaign filed in Maine Tuesday asks the court to vacate Bellows’ decision, declare that the secretary of state has no authority to continue proceedings regarding Trump’s disqualification from the ballot under the 14th Amendment and for the court to require Bellows to include Trump on the Republican presidential primary ballot.

State statute says the court has 20 days from the secretary of state’s decision to issue a written ruling. A spokesperson for the secretary of state confirmed Tuesday that the deadline for the court to issue a decision will be Jan. 17.


Bellows’ decision made Maine the second state in the country to bar Trump from the ballot. Earlier in December, the Colorado Supreme Court booted Trump from the ballot under the same Civil War-era provision of the Constitution. The Colorado ruling also has been appealed, and it is likely the U.S. Supreme Court will have the final say on whether Trump appears on the ballot in Colorado, Maine and other states.

While those who challenged Trump’s right to be on the ballot called the decision courageous, Bellows has received intense pushback, especially from Republicans in Maine.

Bellows and her office continue to be the target of threatening communications, she said Tuesday. Maine State Police continue to investigate a “swatting” incident that targeted Bellows’ late Friday. Someone called police to falsely report a break-in at her home in Manchester and requested a strong police response. State troopers conducted an exterior and interior check, but nothing suspicious was found.

Staff Writer Dennis Hoey contributed to this report.

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