Shenna Bellows was performing an important function required under Maine’s election laws when she resolved the objections that were filed with her office. Her position as secretary of state required her to resolve the objections to Donald Trump’s name appearing on the ballot of the Republican primary. The criticisms of her, although predictable, are without merit.

An individual who has violated their oath to the United States Constitution by promoting an insurrection makes themselves unfit to hold an elective office. An individual who, by his own actions, has disqualified himself from holding an office cannot be heard to complain when his name is removed from the ballot, barring him from seeking votes for the position he cannot hold.

An opinion piece published in the Jan. 3 Press Herald (“Secretary Bellows begs to differ. Would that it were so simple.”) argued that basic relevant facts about Mr. Trump’s actions leading up to and on Jan. 6 remain to be established. That is incorrect.

When Bellows made her decision, the basic facts regarding Trump’s actions leading up to and on the day that the mob attacked were not in doubt. Millions of us witnessed these events. Furthermore, Bellows, and all of us, have the benefit of the additional facts that have been uncovered by the formal congressional fact-finding investigation and by the published reports of the admissions of several of Trump’s co-conspirators whose pleas have been entered in the court in Georgia.

Trump urged his followers to come to Washington based on the false claim that there had been massive fraud in the counting of the vote for president. When Trump addressed the people who answered his call on Jan. 6, he directed them to march on the Capitol. Millions of us watched as his mob of supports did exactly what Trump had directed them to do, with the goal of stopping the certification of the election that he had lost. We saw, and many of us have now seen many times, the video of the mob attacking the police, overrunning the barriers and breaking into the Capitol, forcing the members of Congress to flee to safety. These were shocking events.

When basic facts are in doubt, the person accused of misconduct must have a reasonable opportunity to present their evidence and arguments at a fair hearing. In this case, however, when the basic facts cannot reasonably be disputed, it becomes a question of law as to what the facts mean when the law is applied to them. For her decision, Bellows applied the law, as she understood it, to facts that are now well established.

Trump has exercised his right to appeal. Now our Maine judges must determine if Bellows has correctly interpreted Section 3 of the 14th Amendment as it applies to the basic facts concerning the actions of Trump and his mob of supporters.

The justices of the U.S. Supreme Court may also soon interpret Section 3, having just agreed to hear the appeal from the decision of the Colorado Supreme Court. It is possible that a majority of the court will rule that Section 3 does not apply to someone who engaged in insurrection when, at the time they violated their oath, they were serving as the president.

It is even possible that the justices might even deny the facts that we all witnessed, deny that an insurrection occurred, or rule that individual states do not have the right to use their own process to resolve disputes regarding candidate eligibility in an election for a federal office. We will know their decision in due course. But whatever a majority of the Supreme Court decides, it should be understood that Bellows properly performed an important function required of her position under Maine law; she does not deserve the attacks she has had to endure.

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