If four Colorado state Supreme Court justices were not a small enough number of unelected individuals to determine for whom an entire state should have the right to vote, try one. Yes, in Maine, one person, the secretary of state, unilaterally determined that the entire voting population of the Pine Tree State should be prevented from casting their ballots in their upcoming primary for former President Donald Trump.
Shenna Bellows, Maine’s secretary of state, singularly disqualified Trump, pending appeal, from appearing on the March 5, 2024, primary ballot. “I likewise conclude that Mr. Trump was aware of the likelihood for violence and at least initially supported its use given he both encouraged it with incendiary rhetoric and took no timely action to stop it,” wrote Bellows in her Dec. 28 ruling.
On Tuesday, Trump appealed the Bellows decision in the Maine Superior Court.
Bellows must be clairvoyant, given her conclusion that “Trump was aware.” Does Bellows know what’s in the head or on the mind of the former president? She based her disqualification on a feeling, without any discernible evidence, and without either a charge or conviction of Trump for any lawbreaking. This flimsy case to remove Trump from the primary ballot in Maine is about as solid as a house of cards in front of an oscillating fan.
Bellows, a solid partisan Democrat who served in the Maine state Senate before the state legislature selected her to be secretary of state, is not an attorney. She also served as one of the state’s three Biden electors for the presidential election of 2020, and can be seen looking very chummy with Biden in a photo taken in March. It is evident this is a pure case of election interference and disenfranchises more than 832,000 registered voters in Maine.
Yet the very next morning after her ruling, Bellows suspended it, pending the appeal by the Trump campaign, saying she doesn’t have the power to remove a candidate from the ballot. Her ruling is stayed until a ruling by the Maine Supreme Court.
Bellows, as also cited in the Colorado case barring Trump from the ballot, referenced Section 3 of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution as the rationale behind her decision to exclude Trump. Yet many, including legal expert Alan Dershowitz, noted Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, which references “insurrection or rebellion,” had the intent of keeping former members of the Confederacy from serving in elected office.
“The Constitution provides for the disqualification of those who fought in the Civil War. Now Trump’s old, but not old enough to have fought in the Civil War,” said Dershowitz, professor emeritus at Harvard Law School. “I’m not a Trump supporter, but I want the right to vote against Trump, just like you have the right to vote for Trump, and that right can’t be denied us by a Colorado court, or a Michigan court, or by any court. It’s just not the way the Constitution operates,” he said.
Disqualify Biden Too?
And while the word “insurrection” from Section 3 of the 14th Amendment is bandied about so freely, and Trump has neither been charged with, nor convicted of such, that same passage also bars from office those who have “given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof.” In that case, why not disqualify President Joe Biden for giving aid and comfort to enemies of the United States on at least three counts?
Biden gave the Islamic Republic of Iran $16 billion, which has freed up the same amount to be used for expanding its potential nuclear capability, which Iran has threatened to use against the United States (the big Satan) and Israel (the little Satan). Biden has sold off oil reserves to the Chinese Communist Party while Americans are being hammered at gas pumps all across the nation. Biden’s disastrous open-border policy has allowed an estimated 8 to 10 million unvetted illegal immigrants into the United States, and a number of known terrorists have been captured. How many of the “got-aways” are terrorists plotting nefarious acts inside the borders of the United States?
Yet neither Trump nor Biden have been charged or convicted. “If no convictions are required under Shenna Bellows’ rules then that’s why this is such a dangerous game she’s created,” said John Andrews, a Republican state representative in Maine. “She opened the door to election chaos. Even extremely progressive Democrat Jared Golden said she’s in the wrong, that he doesn’t like Trump, but he should be on the ballot. I applaud him for saying that because he’s correct; it’s the right move,” said Andrews.
In other words, before jumping to Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, don’t skip over Section 1: “[N]or shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
Due process may have been in the back of Bellows’ mind when tweeting the following on Jan. 4, 2022: “The fundamental right of any American citizen to vote freely, fairly and to have their vote counted is the premise of our democracy. The Constitution and the Bill of Rights are not values to be compromised away. #FreedomToVoteAct.” But somehow, she hypocritically forgot her own true words when determining unilaterally that the former president should not appear on Maine ballots. Bellows, a former executive director with the Maine ACLU and a potential candidate for governor in 2026, seems more than a bit power-hungry.
Other States that May Bar Trump
This sort of megalomania is being exhibited in 13 additional states that have lawsuits to bar Trump from their ballots: Alaska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, South Carolina, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. Republicans are almost certain to carry Alaska, South Carolina, Texas, West Virginia, and Wyoming. That’s 58 potential electoral votes Trump would be excluded from garnering, and an almost certain defeat at the polls.
Attempts to remove Trump are “the M.O. of the Democrat elite,” said former U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, adding that these kinds of tactics are just one reason she left the Democrat Party. “They will stop at nothing to try and maintain their power. … They have no issue in pursuing [Trump], persecuting him through a weaponized and politicized Department of Justice,” said Gabbard.
These same people who want to topple dictators abroad are driving this, she added. “It’s not just Democrats. There are Republicans who are threatened by President Trump’s unwillingness to buy into their establishment ways.”
Left-of-Center States Not Banning Trump
Yet even in a state as liberal as California, Secretary of State Shirley N. Weber announced that President Trump will appear on the Golden State’s primary ballots. Michigan and Minnesota announced likewise. These left-of-center states understand what is at stake — making sure the voters, the people for whom the politicians work, have the greatest access possible to support the candidates of their choice.
This is not about liking Trump or disliking Trump. Nor is this about liking Biden or disliking Biden. This is about the will of the people to freely choose their elected officials, whether for president, the Senate, the House of Representatives, or any office down-ballot to the candidates for the school board. For a single individual, or the slimmest majority of a state court, to determine for millions of voters for whom they should be allowed to vote is the kind of dangerous precedent seen in places such as China, Iran, and Russia, where roughly two dozen potential opponents to Vladimir Putin have been squelched from the ballot.
Supreme Court Must Rule Unanimously
The Supreme Court must step up with a unanimous nine-to-nothing vote denying the states the ability to keep a presidential candidate off the ballot when there is no legal reason to do so. Anything short of total unanimity will send the wrong message. A divided court, even at eight to one, leaves open the door for the possibility that a future court will determine states can willy-nilly bar a candidate from their ballots to remain in power. This would be a most dangerous precedent, from which there is no turning back, and this republic would cease to exist.
When the voters lose their right to choose, the nation loses itself, giving way to despots and dictators like those in China, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Syria, and Venezuela. When the United States of America ceases to be that “shining city on a hill,” that beacon of hope for the truly oppressed, when people lose their freedoms of speech and religion, their right to peacefully protest their government, we become like those other despotic regimes, and the world as we know it is damned.
As we head into 2024, let’s fight like hell, in unison — Democrats, Republicans, independents, even the apathetic who don’t vote — to maintain the freedoms we cherish. Remember the words of President Ronald Reagan: “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it along to our children in our bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”