Updated Dec 28, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Maine decision keeping Trump off 2024 ballot draws bipartisan backlash

Photo: Kamil Krzaczynski/AFP via Getty Images

Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellows' decision on Thursday to block former President Trump from appearing on the state's 2024 presidential primary ballot elicited pushback from Republican and Democratic lawmakers.

Why it matters: The Democratic secretary of state's controversial move, along with a similar decision by the Colorado Supreme Court, is expected to be adjudicated by the U.S. Supreme Court in the coming weeks.

  • Several Democrat-appointed judges dissented in the Colorado case, and the Michigan Supreme Court this week rejected a bid to kick Trump off the ballot.

What they’re saying: Rep. Jared Golden (D-Maine) noted in a statement that he voted to impeach Trump over Jan. 6 and opposes his re-election, but said "we are a nation of laws, therefore until he is actually found guilty of the crime of insurrection, he should be allowed on the ballot."

  • Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said in a statement to Axios: "Maine voters should decide who wins the election — not a Secretary of State chosen by the Legislature."
  • Bellows' decision "would deny thousands of Mainers the opportunity to vote for the candidate of their choice, and it should be overturned," Collins added.
  • Sen. Angus King (I-Maine), who caucuses with Democrats, said in a statement that “absent a final judicial determination … the decision as to whether or not Mr. Trump should again be considered for the presidency should rest with the people as expressed in free and fair elections.”

What we’re watching: Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), who has drafted legislation to restrict federal funds for states who restrict candidates' ballot access under the 14th Amendment, said he will introduce the bill "as Congress returns to session."

  • "This is an egregious abuse of power," he said of the Maine decision in a post on X, adding that his bill will "stop these partisan officials and ensure any constitutional challenge is only decided by the U.S. Supreme Court."
  • House GOP Conference Chair Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) said in a statement: "Another day, another illegal and corrupt act by the desperate radical Democrats weaponizing government against President Trump, Joe Biden's top political opponent."

The other side: A handful of Democrats praised Bellows' decision on its merits.

  • "The text of the 14th Amendment is crystal clear: anyone who participates in insurrection is permanently barred from public office," Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.) said. "Donald Trump incited a violent riot to overthrow American democracy. Of course he should be banned from the presidency forever."

Go deeper... Read: Why Maine removed Trump from 2024 ballot

Editor's note: This article has been updated with comment from Sen. Susan Collins.

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