Maine judge declines ruling on Trump ballot case, pending U.S. Supreme Court decision

Former President Donald Trump celebrates his win Monday in the 2024 Iowa Caucus in Des Moines. On Wednesday, a judge in Maine declined to rule on whether to uphold or overturn a decision to remove Trump from Maine's 2024 primary ballot, pending a decision on a similar case before the U.S. Supreme Court. Photo by Tannen Maury/UPI
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Jan. 17 (UPI) -- A judge in Maine declined to rule Wednesday on whether to uphold or overturn the secretary of state's decision to remove former President Donald Trump from Maine's 2024 primary ballot, pending a decision on a similar case before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Justice Michaela Murphy in Kennebec County Superior Court declined to rule on Trump's appeal of Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellows' decision that would disqualify him from being on the ballot for president based on the "insurrection clause" of the 14th Amendment.

Murphy argued that the same issues already are set to be considered in a separate case, on Colorado's ballot disqualification, which will go before the Supreme Court on Feb. 8.

"Put simply, the U.S. Supreme Court's acceptance of the Colorado case changes everything about the order in which these issues should be decided, and by which court," Murphy wrote in her 17-page opinion Wednesday.

"The court concludes that a remand to the secretary pending a decision by the Supreme Court on these unprecedented issues will promote consistency and avoid voter confusion in the weeks before the primary election," Murphy added.

"Because many of the issues presented in this case are likely to be resolved, narrowed, or rendered moot by the Supreme Court's decision in the Colorado case, the court concludes that a remand is necessary," Murphy wrote, sending the case back to the secretary of state.

Murphy ordered Bellows to issue a revised ruling on Trump's qualifications within 30 days of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision on the Colorado appeal.

"While it is impossible to know what the Supreme Court will decide, hopefully it will at least clarify what role, if any, state decision-makers, including secretaries of state and state judicial officers, play in adjudicating claims of disqualification brought under Section Three of the Fourteenth Amendment."

Earlier this month, Trump appealed the Colorado ruling, which removed him from the state's Republican primary ballot, to the U.S. Supreme Court. The former president also appealed a similar decision in Maine in the complaint filed and now deferred in Kennebec County Superior Court.

While Colorado and Maine are the only states to remove Trump from their 2024 primary ballots, lawsuits in other states -- including Minnesota, New Hampshire, Michigan and Oregon -- were dismissed on procedural grounds.