Posted on January 10, 2024 (January 10, 2024) Challenging Corruption Share: Free Speech For People filed an amicus brief today before the Maine Superior Court in Trump v. Bellows, an appeal filed by Donald Trump after Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellows barred his name from appearing on the state’s March 5th presidential primary ballots under Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment. The brief addresses Trump’s argument that his involvement in the January 6, 2021 insurrection, including his speech on January 6th that sent the violent mob to the Capitol, is all protected by the right to free speech under the First Amendment. However, the First Amendment does not override qualifications for public office; his involvement was not just speech, but also included conduct; and any action that assists an insurrection, including speech, is considered engagement under Section 3: “Section 3 is not a mere statute, subject to First Amendment review; it is a coequal (and if anything, the later-enacted and more specific) provision of the Constitution,” Free Speech For People states. “As the Secretary noted, the First Amendment does not override qualifications for public office.” His engagement in the Big Lie went beyond words to include directing a fraudulent electors scheme, helping to plan the Ellipse demonstration prior to the storming of the Capitol, and providing financial and logistical support that would benefit organizers and allow armed Trump supporters to enter the building. All of these are considered disqualifying acts not protected by the First Amendment. The brief also disposes of scenarios offered by Republican national groups which, in their own amicus brief, tried to compare January 6 to other recent political events. “On January 6, 2021, a violent mob acting on Trump’s behalf and at his direction attacked the U.S. Capitol, defeated law enforcement, conquered the seat of our national government, nearly assassinated the Vice President and congressional leaders, obstructed Congress, and disrupted the peaceful transfer of power,” the brief adds. “Nothing in our history compares—not even the Confederacy reached the Capitol or disrupted the peaceful transfer of power.” Secretary Bellows ruled in December 2023 that former President Donald Trump is ineligible to hold public office under Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment, also known as the Insurrectionist Disqualification Clause, for his role in inciting the January 6th Capitol insurrection. “The weight of the evidence makes clear that Mr. Trump was aware of the tinder laid by his multi-month effort to delegitimize a democratic election, and then chose to light a match,” Secretary Bellows said in a statement following her decision. Maine is one of several states considering Trump’s eligibility for the 2024 presidential primary. Free Speech For People has filed similar challenges on behalf of voters in Minnesota, Michigan, Oregon, Illinois, and Massachusetts. The US Supreme Court has agreed to hear a separate case from Colorado following the Colorado Supreme Court’s ruling that Trump is disqualified, with arguments scheduled for February 8th. Read the full amicus brief here. Read more about Maine voters’ challenge to Trump’s ballot eligibility here.