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Maine secretary of state urges judge not to delay ruling in Trump ballot disqualification case

Secretary of State Shenna Bellows speaks at the inauguration of Gov. Janet Mills, Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2023, at the Civic Center in Augusta, Maine.
Robert F. Bukaty
/
AP file
Secretary of State Shenna Bellows speaks at the inauguration of Gov. Janet Mills, Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2023, at the Civic Center in Augusta, Maine.

Democratic Secretary of State Shenna Bellows is urging a superior court judge not to delay an appeal of her decision removing former President Donald Trump from Maine's Republican presidential primary ballot.

The brief filed by the Office of the Maine Attorney General on Bellows' behalf says the request by Trump's legal team to delay its appeal until the U.S. Supreme Court rules on a similar case in Colorado would violate Maine election law and compromise the administration of the upcoming March 5 presidential primary.

Judge Michaela Murphy, who is overseeing the case, has not responded to the delay request, but had originally said in a procedural order that she would rule on the case by Jan. 17.

Bellows argues that Murphy should stick to that timeline to prevent confusion and that waiting for the high court to adjudicate the Colorado case sometime in mid-February will make it harder for Maine election officials to administer the primary election.

"A stay of this proceeding, followed by a February decision from the U.S. Supreme Court, may ultimately force the Secretary and her staff to scramble to minimize damage to the integrity of the March 5, 2024 election," the brief reads.

In its request for a delay, Trump's attorneys had argued that the Colorado case will affect the Maine decision, but Bellows says in her latest filing that the high court could issue a narrow ruling specific to Colorado law.

Both efforts to remove Trump from the ballot say the former president violated the insurrection clause of the U.S. Constitution when he incited the riots at the U.S. Capitol three years ago.

Journalist Steve Mistler is Maine Public’s chief politics and government correspondent. He is based at the State House.