Illinois Joins the Growing List of States Trying to Kick Trump Off Ballot

An Illinois judge ruled on Wednesday that former President Donald Trump is barred from appearing on the state’s primary ballot next month based on the “insurrection clause” of the 14th Amendment.

This is now the third state that has removed Trump from its 2024 ballot, following similar decisions in Colorado and Maine. Cook County Circuit Judge Tracie Porter heavily relied on Colorado Supreme Court‘s ruling regarding Trump’s candidacy in her decision, writing that the court’s reasoning was “compelling.”

Porter’s decision is paused until Friday to give Trump a relatively short window to appeal the ruling. Colorado and Maine have also paused their decisions pending an appeals ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Trump Banned From Illinois Ballot
Republican presidential candidate and former U.S. President Donald Trump on Saturday speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Maryland. A judge in Illinois ruled that Trump is barred from appearing on the…


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The Context

Lawsuits have been filed in several states arguing that Trump—front-runner for the GOP presidential nomination—should be barred from appearing on the November ballot based on Section 3 of the 14th Amendment. The Civil War-era clause states that a person who “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” after taking an oath to uphold the Constitution is barred from running for office again. Legal challenges to Trump’s candidacy have homed in on his actions connected to the January 6 siege on the U.S. Capitol.

Colorado Supreme Court sided with six voters, represented by watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics, in its ruling against Trump in December. Maine’s Secretary of State Shenna Bellows followed suit about a week later.

What We Know

Legal advocacy group Free Speech For People (FSFP) led efforts to remove Trump in Illinois, calling Porter’s ruling a “historic victory” in a statement Wednesday evening. The group also attempted to remove the former president from Michigan, Minnesota and Oregon’s ballots, but failed.

When reached for comment, the Illinois Republican Party directed Newsweek to a statement by the group’s chairman, Don Tracy, who called Porter’s decision to bar Trump “an affront to democracy and limits the voting rights of Illinois citizens.”

“As we’ve stated repeatedly, the Illinois Republican Party believes the people, not activist courts or unelected bureaucrats, should choose who represents them in the White House,” Tracy said.

Views

The bipartisan Illinois State Board of Elections last month unanimously rejected a challenge to Trump’s candidacy in the state, claiming it did not have jurisdiction to rule on a case involving the 14th Amendment.

But Porter wrote in her ruling on Wednesday that the petitioners had “met their burden” of evidence as to why Trump should be barred from Illinois’ 2024 ballot in their original suit, adding that the Electoral Board’s decision “was clearly erroneous in denying” FSFP’s request.

Wednesday’s ruling was also welcomed by Daniel Hodges, a D.C. Metropolitan Police officer who was crushed by the pro-Trump supporters that stormed the Capitol. Hodges testified against Trump in the Colorado case in October, calling the attack in Washington “horrific” and a “terrorist attack.”

“No matter what happens, it is gratifying to see yet another court has ruled that Donald Trump engaged in insurrection and is barred from holding office,” Hodges wrote on X, formerly Twitter. “Thanks to @FSFP for putting in the work.”

Supporters of Trump bashed Porter’s ruling over social media, including Illinois Representative Mary Miller, who called Porter a “radical” judge.

“Make no mistake, they are targeting President Trump because they know he is fighting tirelessly to MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN,” Miller wrote on X.

Trump and his campaign have bashed decisions to remove him from the 2024 ballot in the past. Trump spokesperson Steven Cheung in December said in a statement that Colorado’s ruling to ban Trump was a “left-wing group’s scheme to interfere in an election on behalf of Crooked Joe Biden.”

Newsweek reached out to Trump’s campaign via email for comment Wednesday evening.

What’s Next?

The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments regarding the challenge to Trump’s candidacy in Colorado earlier this month, and legal experts are doubtful that the high court will uphold the state’s ruling. Maine and Illinois’ rulings are contingent on the decision.

Update 02/28/24, 11:05 p.m. ET: This article has been updated with additional background.