Former US President Donald Trump on Tuesday appealed a decision by Maine's top election official to exclude him from the state's Republican presidential primary ballot over his role in the January 6, 2021, Capitol attack.
Shenna Bellows, Maine's Secretary of State and a Democrat, barred Trump from the state's primary ballot under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, which prohibits those who "engaged in insurrection" from holding office.
In her decision, Bellows noted that the January 6 Capitol attack "occurred at the behest of, and with the knowledge and support of, the outgoing President."
Bellows concluded that the former president incited an insurrection in an attempt to hold onto power following defeat in the 2020 election and was disqualified from holding office again under constitutional rules.
Trump's lawyers call ruling biased
Trump's appeal on Tuesday asks that Bellows be required to place him on the March 5 primary ballot.
His attorneys argued that Bellows' ruling demonstrates bias and lacks legal authority.
"The secretary should have recused herself due to her bias against President Trump, as demonstrated by a documented history of prior statements prejudging the issue presented," Trump's attorneys wrote.
Trump's lawyers argue that the ruling can't stand because the amendment doesn't explicitly mention the president and only refers to any "officer of the United States." They argue that the legal term doesn't apply to the president.
Incidentally, during his prosecution for fraud by the Manhattan District Attorney's office, Trump's attorneys asked for the case to be moved to a federal court because the president is "an officer of the United States."
The decision in Maine is currently on hold pending the appeal's outcome.
"I have confidence in my decision and confidence in the rule of law," Bellows said in a statement.
Trump is currently the leading Republican presidential nominee.
Other states to rule on Trump eligibility
At the same time, Trump faces similar exclusion in Colorado, where the state Supreme Court barred him from the primary ballot for the same reason.
That case is expected to be appealed at the US Supreme Court.
Challenges to Trump's electoral eligibility, citing a section of the 14th Amendment, have been filed in some other states too.
Recently, courts in Minnesota and Michigan decided to retain Trump on the ballot.
A US Supreme Court ruling could offer a nationwide resolution to the questions about Trump's eligibility.
Some conservative critics warn that Trump's removal would lead to Section 3 being abused by political groups against opponents.