Illinois elections board votes to keep Trump on primary ballot

In a unanimous, bipartisan vote, the Illinois State Board of Elections agreed to put former President Donald Trump on the March 19 GOP primary ballot, saying it lacked the authority to decide whether he was disqualified from holding the presidency under the U.S. Constitution’s “insurrection clause.”

Guided by past Illinois Supreme Court rulings that prevent it from deciding complex constitutional issues, the board in an 8-0 vote rejected an objection to Trump’s appearance on the ballot on grounds that he “knowingly” filed a false statement of candidacy saying he was qualified to hold the office of the presidency.

The decision by the board, made up of four Democrats and four Republicans, is expected to be appealed in court by the group of five voters who filed the objection to Trump’s name appearing on the ballot over his role in the deadly Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol.

The objectors cited provisions of Section 3 of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, a post-Civil War amendment that says those who have taken an oath to uphold the Constitution “as member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any state legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any state,” shall not be able to serve in Congress or “hold any office, civil or military” if they have engaged in “insurrection or rebellion” against the Constitution.

The challenge was backed by Free Speech for People, a group that has mounted similar 14th Amendment challenges to Trump’s candidacy in states around the country.

The board’s decision came after a hearing officer, former Republican Kankakee County Circuit Judge Clark Erickson, issued an opinion saying that he agreed that Trump had engaged in “insurrection” but that the board was prevented from considering constitutional analysis.

GOP board member Catherine McRory voted to allow Trump’s name on the ballot, but said, “I wanted to be clear that this Republican views 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 Jan. 6,” she said of Trump. “However, having said that, it is not my place to rule on that today” because of the lack of “jurisdiction to rule on that fact.”

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