‘She’s Not A Lawyer’: CNN Analysts Blasts Bellows’ Decision

Maine recently became the second state, after Colorado, to determine that former President Donald Trump should be disqualified from appearing on the 2024 GOP presidential primary ballot based on a controversial interpretation of the 14th Amendment’s so-called “insurrection clause.”

Unlike in Colorado, where the decision was handed down by the state’s Supreme Court, Maine’s Constitution grants authority to the secretary of state. Shenna Bellows currently holds that position, and she voted in favor of excluding Trump from the ballot on Thursday following multiple public statements in recent years essentially accusing the former president of inciting an insurrection ahead of the Jan. 6, 2021, protest on Capitol Hill.

Her apparent anti-Trump bias was widely cited as a likely factor in her ruling, and even some mainstream media personalities found fault with the manner by which she arrived at her conclusion.

During a panel discussion on CNN, legal analyst Elie Honig argued that it was not as simple as Bellows claimed to boot a candidate from the ballot based on a claim that has not been proven in court. Specifically, he criticized her use of YouTube videos in defending her assertion that Trump was guilty of inciting an insurrection.

“No, it’s not that simple,” Honig declared. “So, clearly Section 3 of the 14th Amendment says [if you] engage in insurrection, you’re out. We all have that. The complicated part, and where we are going to see this play out in the courts, is who gets to decide and by what process.”

Referencing the perceived fallacy of both the Colorado and Maine decisions, he acknowledged that “both sides” of the debate are “theorizing” about the implications of the 14th Amendment.

“We’re in legally unknown territory,” Honig continued. “The argument against is, first of all, the 14th Amendment Section 5 says Congress has the authority to pass laws, to implement this. They did; they passed the criminal law. And the argument is that means Congress, not the states.

In the decisions to exclude Trump from state ballots, he noted, the argument used is that “the states can do it too,” which raises a different constitutional question.

“Were the processes, were these hearings fair?” Honig asked. “Did they comport with due process? And I think there’s a question there with regard to what Maine did. Because if you look at the hearing, and she details this in the ruling, they heard from one fact witness — a law professor. She based her ruling on a lot of documents, but also YouTube clips, news reports, things that would never pass the bar in normal court.”

While giving Bellows credit for handing down a “smartly written decision,” he clarified that “she’s not a lawyer” and was not elected by the voters of her state.

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