Maine on Thursday became the second state to bar Donald J. Trump from its primary election ballot after its top election official ruled that the former president’s efforts to remain in power after the 2020 election rendered him ineligible to hold office again.
Hours later, her counterpart in California announced that Mr. Trump would remain on the ballot in the nation’s most populous state, where election officials have limited power to remove candidates.
The official in Maine, Secretary of State Shenna Bellows, wrote in her decision that Mr. Trump did not qualify for the ballot because of his role in the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. A handful of citizens had challenged his eligibility by claiming that he had incited an insurrection and was thus barred from seeking the presidency again under the 14th Amendment of the Constitution.
“I am mindful that no secretary of state has ever deprived a presidential candidate of ballot access based on Section 3 of the 14th Amendment. I am also mindful, however, that no presidential candidate has ever before engaged in insurrection,” Ms. Bellows, a Democrat, wrote.
Ms. Bellows’s decision follows a Colorado Supreme Court ruling last week to keep Mr. Trump off the state’s Republican primary ballot.
The decisions in Maine and Colorado underscore national tensions over democracy, ballot access and the rule of law. They also add urgency to calls for the United States Supreme Court to insert itself into the politically explosive dispute over Mr. Trump’s eligibility.
Steven Cheung, a spokesman for the Trump campaign, said Thursday night that both the Maine and Colorado rulings were “partisan election interference efforts” that were “a hostile assault on American democracy.”
Just weeks before the first votes in the 2024 election are set to be cast, lawyers on both sides are asking the nation’s top court to provide guidance on an obscure clause of a constitutional amendment enacted after the Civil War, which is at the heart of the effort to block Mr. Trump from making a third White House run.