Hours after Maine considered Donald Trump ineligible to run for US President in the state California’s secretary of state has declined to remove his name from the primary ballot. This means Trump would remain on the ballot in United State’s most populous state, where election officials have limited power to remove candidates.
New York Times reported, Secretary of State Shirley Weber, a Democrat, had indicated in recent days that she was inclined to keep Mr. Trump on the ballot based on her interpretation of California law.
Earlier in the day, in Maine, the secretary of state, Shenna Bellows, wrote in her decision that Mr. Trump did not qualify for the ballot because of his alleged role in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. The state joined hands with Colorado’s Supreme Court that ruled in a 4 to 3 decision that the former president is ineligible.
“I am mindful that no secretary of state has ever deprived a presidential candidate of ballot access based on Section 3 of the 14th Amendment. I am also mindful, however, that no presidential candidate has ever before engaged in insurrection,” Ms. Bellows, a Democrat, wrote.
However, both decisions are on hold while the legal process plays out. Now his fate is in the hands of the US Supreme Court.
So can Trump run for US President post?
Despite dozens of lawsuits seeking barring of his candidature for involvement in Capitol Hill attacks that aimed to overturn 2020 ballot. But Section 3 doesn’t require a criminal conviction to take effect and according to the US Constitution they didn’t have the authority to do so without a court order – until Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellows’ decision.
US Supreme Court has never ruled on Section 3. It’s likely to do so in considering appeals of the Colorado decision – the state Republican Party has already appealed, and Trump is expected to file his own shortly. The Maine decision does force the high court’s hand, though. It was already highly likely the justices would hear the Colorado case, but Maine removes any doubt.
What is Section 3 of US Constitution?
After the Civil War, the U.S. ratified the 14th Amendment to guarantee rights to former slaves with Section 3. It was designed to keep former Confederates from regaining government power after the war.
The measure reads:
“No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice-President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.”
Trump’s arguments: let voters decide
Trump’s lawyers claim, it’s not clear Section 3 applies to the president – as the language used in the draft says “an officer of the United States” which doesn’t mean the president, they contend. Even if it does apply, they claim, it is a “political” question best decided by voters, not unelected judges. His lawyers assert, judges are violating Trump’s rights to a fair legal procedure by flatly ruling he’s ineligible without some sort of fact-finding process like a lengthy criminal trial.