Secretary of State Shenna Bellows in Augusta in December. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellows has urged a judge to reject former President Donald Trump’s request to pause his appeal of Bellows’ decision to disqualify him from Maine’s presidential primary ballot.

Trump’s attorneys filed the request Monday, saying the Maine case should be put on hold while the U.S. Supreme Court hears a similar case out of Colorado. The Supreme Court ruling will likely determine the outcome in Maine, too, they argued.

In a response filed in Kennebec County Superior Court, Bellows argued that delaying the appeal would be a violation of the timeline set out in state statute and that waiting for the U.S. Supreme Court to issue a decision could negatively impact the March presidential primary.

“A stay of this proceeding, followed by a February decision from the U.S. Supreme Court, may ultimately force the Secretary and her staff to scramble to minimize damage to the integrity of the March 5, 2024, election,” the Office of the Maine Attorney General states in the filing on Bellows’ behalf.

Kennebec County Superior Court Justice Michaela Murphy was originally expected to issue a ruling on Trump’s appeal by Jan. 17. It was not clear Tuesday when she might issue a decision on the request that the appeal be put on hold.

The Maine case comes as states around the U.S. are facing challenges to Trump’s eligibility to be on upcoming presidential primary ballots. Many of the challenges have been filed in courts, but the process for determining ballot eligibility varies by state and Maine’s election laws require challenges to be ruled on by the secretary of state.


A liberal group in Massachusetts last week filed a complaint with that state’s ballot law commission challenging Trump’s place on the ballot. Lawsuits are pending in Vermont and New Hampshire, according to the blog Lawfare, which is tracking efforts to remove Trump from the ballot around the country.

In Maine, three former elected officials who filed an initial challenge to Trump’s ballot access – Ethan Strimling, Tom Saviello and Kimberly Rosen – also filed arguments opposing the request from Trump to pause his appeal.

They also said the request would be a departure from the timeline in state statute and that it could cause confusion among voters if the decision is not made in time for Trump’s name to be removed from ballots.

The U.S. Supreme Court announced just a few days after the Maine appeal was filed in Kennebec County Superior Court that it would be taking up an appeal of a similar decision by the Colorado Supreme Court that Trump should be disqualified for having violated Section 3 of the 14th Amendment by engaging in insurrection on Jan. 6, 2021.

Trump has argued that the questions in the Colorado case include federal issues that are identical to the issues in the Maine case, and that allowing the high court to weigh in could definitively settle both cases.

Bellows agrees that there is overlap between the two cases, but said there’s no guarantee the Supreme Court will resolve the issues in Maine. She said Trump seemed to assume the high court would uphold his position, but said the court could instead uphold the Colorado decision, could rule on Colorado-specific aspects of the case or could decline to rule on it at all.

That could mean the Maine case would still need to be resolved, likely days before the election, at the same time as absentee voters are filling out ballots with Trump’s qualifications in doubt, Bellows said.

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