Amid the intense coverage of the Colorado ballot exclusion case that was the subject of oral argument before the Supreme Court earlier this month, the Law Court’s decision in Trump v. Secretary of State on a parallel appeal of the Maine Secretary of State’s decision to bar Donald Trump from the ballot has garnered comparatively little notice. The Law Court’s decision has flown under the radar because it does not reach the merits of the meaning and application of the Fourteenth Amendment, but instead turns on appellate procedure. Procedure matters, however, and the decision raises an interesting question.
The challenge to Trump’s primary ballot petition was governed by 21-A M.R.S. § 337, which requires (1) the Secretary to rule on any petition challenge within 5 days of a hearing on the challenge, (2) the Superior Court issue a decision on any appeal within 20 days of the Secretary’s ruling, and (3) the Law Court to issue a decision on any