Illinois election board rules unanimously against removing Trump from primary ballot in 14th Amendment 'insurrection' challenge

 January 31, 2024

Former President Donald Trump has prevailed in yet another 14th Amendment-related ballot removal effort at the state level led by a left-leaning activist group that asserts Trump is disqualified from holding office because of his purported role in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot and "insurrection" in 2021.

The Illinois State Board of Elections ruled unanimously on Tuesday against removing Trump from the state's upcoming primary election ballot, according to NPR.

That decision came about, despite some members believing the former president was guilty of having "engaged in insurrection" against the federal government, because of an agreement with the recommendation that the ballot eligibility issue was one that the courts were best positioned to address instead of the board.

Courts should decide 14th Amendment ballot eligibility issue

The Associated Press reported that the Illinois election board's hearing officer, a retired Republican judge, informed the board members that there was a "preponderance of the evidence" to suggest that former President Trump was ineligible to appear on the state's primary ballot because of the 14th Amendment's "insurrection" clause.

However, that same hearing officer also suggested that the board lacked the authority to remove Trump from the ballot and should instead wait on the U.S. Supreme Court to rule on the matter, as the high court will soon hear arguments in a challenge against the Colorado Supreme Court's decision to remove the former president from its ballot because of his alleged role in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.

That advice was also echoed by one of Trump's attorneys, Adam Merrill, who said at one point during the two-hour hearing, "We would recommend and urge the board to not wade into this."

The "insurrection" clause of Section 3 of the 14th Amendment that came about after the conclusion of the U.S. Civil War, which was initially intended to prevent former Confederate officers and politicians from holding office in the newly reconstituted union of states, has rarely been invoked following an initial flurry of use during the Reconstruction Era.

It has been revived in recent years, however, as opponents of Trump have sought to use it against the former president and his supporters in light of the supposed "insurrection" that occurred at the Capitol building on Jan. 6, 2021.

"Not my place to rule on that today"

The Hill reported that while the evenly bipartisan eight-member Illinois election board ultimately voted unanimously to not remove former President Trump from the state's primary ballot, one of the members appeared to register her objection even as she voted along with all of the others.

"I want it to be clear that this Republican believes that there was an insurrection on Jan. 6. There’s no doubt in my mind that he manipulated, instigated, aided and abetted an insurrection on the Jan. 6," board member Catherine McCrory said of Trump. "However, having said that, it is not my place to rule on that today."

The challenge against Trump's ballot eligibility under the 14th Amendment had been brought by a left-leaning activist group known as Free Speech for People, which ironically has worked to disenfranchise and silence the free speech of Trump and his supporters with similarly unsuccessful ballot removal efforts in several other states.

The AP noted that the activist group was not pleased with the board's decision, as attorney Matthew Piers told reporters, "What’s happened here is an avoidance of a hot potato issue. I get the desire to do it, but the law doesn’t allow you to duck."

Trump celebrates another win

After the Illinois election board issued its decision against removing the former president from the state's March 19 primary ballot, Trump took to his Truth Social account to celebrate his victory against yet another failed ballot removal effort.

"Thank you to the Illinois State Board of Elections for ruling 8-0 in protecting the Citizens of our Country from the Radical Left Lunatics who are trying to destroy it," Trump wrote. "The VOTE was 8-0 in favor of keeping your favorite President (ME!), on the Ballot. I love Illinois. Make America Great Again!"

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