Secretary of State Shenna Bellows and former President Donald Trump filed opposing arguments Tuesday with Maine’s highest court on whether it should issue an opinion about barring the Republican from the state’s March 5 primary ballot.

Bellows’ memo to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court urged it to act quickly on the issue rather than wait for a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in a Colorado case that may or may not settle the dispute in Maine.

“If (the U.S. Supreme Court’s) decision does not direct an outcome in this case – and it may not – the Superior Court’s remand will result in an almost complete restart of the (state) process in mid-February at the earliest,” Bellows wrote.

“Such an outcome is contrary to the statutory design and would sow public confusion,” she said.

Secretary of State Shenna Bellows is asking the Maine Supreme Judicial Court to act quickly on whether Donald Trump is barred from the state’s primary ballot, rather than wait for a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in a Colorado case that may or may not settle the dispute in Maine. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

Trump’s campaign argued that a Kennebec County Superior Court order that the issue be remanded to Bellows pending the outcome of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling on a similar case out of Colorado isn’t a final outcome and thus shouldn’t be subject to appeal.

“This court’s decision is unlikely to settle the federal issues with any finality, and it will be short-lived in its usefulness,” the campaign’s filing said.


The memos were filed Tuesday at the invitation of the state Supreme Court, which previously said the Superior Court’s remanding of the issue to Bellows normally would not be considered a final decision and generally would not be appealable.

Bellows filed a notice of appeal of the lower court’s decision last week, but it remains to be seen whether the state’s highest court will take up the case.

The three former lawmakers – Kimberly Rosen, Tom Saviello and Ethan Strimling – who challenged Trump’s eligibility for the ballot also have filed a notice of appeal and argued with Bellows that the high court should take up an appeal.

This is a sample ballot for Maine’s Republican primary. It includes Donald Trump’s name even though the U.S. Supreme Court, or a Maine court, could disqualify him before the March 5 vote.

The filings are the latest development in a drawn-out process to determine if Trump is eligible for the ballot in Maine. Other states are considering similar challenges and lawsuits to the former president’s ballot access. Oral arguments in the Colorado Supreme Court case being taken up by the U.S. Supreme Court are scheduled for Feb. 8.

On Monday, the Massachusetts Ballot Law Commission rejected a challenge to Trump’s eligibility in that state on procedural grounds, saying it did not have jurisdiction to rule on the challenge.

The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision is widely expected to influence the outcome in Maine and other states with challenges at play, and Superior Court Justice Michaela Murphy noted that in her order last week. But there is a chance the nation’s high court could rule on narrower Colorado-specific grounds.


Bellows’ memo Tuesday said the only outcome of the Colorado case that would definitively resolve the Maine case is a reversal of the Colorado court’s decision on grounds that contradict Bellows’ original ruling.

If the U.S. Supreme Court affirms the Colorado decision, Maine courts still would need to address arguments about state law that Trump made in Maine, she wrote.

A Supreme Court reversal of the Colorado decision also could come on Colorado-specific grounds or the court could decide that its review of the case was taken up mistakenly and decline to rule on it at all – outcomes that also would leave the Maine case unresolved.

Bellows urged Maine’s high court to stick with the process outlined in state law for challenges to primary ballots. That process calls for the Maine Supreme Judicial Court to rule on an appeal of a Superior Court decision within two weeks.

The Superior Court already had an opportunity to weigh in on the merits of the case, and Bellows said she would encourage the high court to do the same.

If it doesn’t, Bellows said the Superior Court’s ruling could end up restarting the state process. She would have to issue a new decision, which would then be subject to the appeals process. A decision on Trump’s ballot eligibility could be delayed until after the primary election.


“Time is of the essence, and permitting the Superior Court’s remand to stand as the March 5 primary election approaches threatens substantial harm to its integrity, and to voters who are currently casting ballots,” Bellows said.

Ballots already have been printed with Trump’s name on them, even though he could still be ruled ineligible. Some ballots are already available for military and overseas voters from Maine, and absentee ballots will become available Feb. 5.

Under Maine law, if a candidate is disqualified or dies after ballots are printed and within 70 days of an election, any votes for the disqualified candidate are not to be counted and the secretary of state must provide notices to local election officials to pass on to voters.

Trump’s campaign said on Tuesday the lower court’s ruling prevents Maine courts from “wasting time and effort” on federal questions that will be resolved by the U.S. Supreme Court. Even if Trump does not prevail before the court, the decision will likely resolve federal questions and narrow the issues at stake in Maine.

“It is most prudent and efficient to do as the Superior Court ordered and await the decision in (the Colorado case) before proceeding any further,” the Trump campaign’s memo states.

It said Maine’s use of ranked choice voting eliminates the potential for any harm to the election if Trump is ultimately disqualified, but having the Maine high court weigh in prior to the U.S. Supreme Court could further confuse voters or result in Trump being improperly removed from the ballot.


Challengers to Trump’s ballot access around the country, including in Maine, have argued that he should be disqualified for violating Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, which prohibits people from holding office if they’ve engaged in insurrection against the United States.

They’ve said the former president, a Republican, tried to overturn the 2020 election results after he lost to Democrat Joe Biden and encouraged his backers to storm the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

Attorneys for Trump have argued that Bellows did not have the authority to issue a ruling on his eligibility, that Section 3 does not apply to the presidency or those seeking to run for office – but rather those who hold office – and that the former president did not engage in insurrection.

They promptly appealed Bellows’ ruling he was ineligible for the ballot to the state Superior Court, just days before the U.S. Supreme Court said it would take up the Colorado case.

Related Headlines

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.