Illinois judge orders Trump removed from state election ballot in reversal of state election board decision News
Official White House photo, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Illinois judge orders Trump removed from state election ballot in reversal of state election board decision

A judge in Illinois on Wednesday ordered former US President Donald Trump to be removed from the state’s primary election ballot. The decision reversed a previous Illinois State Board of Elections ruling allowing Trump to remain as an official candidate. The order was based on Section 3 of the US Constitution’s Fourteenth Amendment. The provision prohibits anyone from “hold[ing] any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath … engaged in insurrection or rebellion.”

The challenge to Trump’s inclusion on the ballot was brought by a nonprofit, Free Speech for People. The organization describes their mission as fighting against “big money in politics” and “fighting for free and fair elections.” They argued that Trump was disqualified from holding or running for office due to his involvement in the January 6, 2021, Capitol riot. Petitioners stated that the former president “incited and engaged” the “insurrection” and is “therefore ineligible to hold future public office.” Similar arguments were used in Colorado and Maine.

Cook County Circuit Judge Tracie Porter sided with the petitioners. In analyzing the Colorado Supreme Court’s ruling, she found their argument for removal “compelling.” She noted the high “clear and convincing” standard used by the state to determine whether Trump actually engaged in insurrection by relying on facts. The standard requires a fact finder to have “a firm belief or conviction that it is highly probable that the factual contentions of the claim or defense are true.”

She contrasted Colorado’s standard to the Illinois State Board of Election’s lower standard of “preponderance of evidence,” that requires requires “demonstrati[on] that the proposition is more likely true than not true.”The board ultimately decided not to apply certain facts because they lacked the legal mandate to delve into a complex constitutional analysis of Trump’s involvement. Porter stated the board’s standard of review and use of the available facts was “clearly erroneous.”

Free Speech for People issued a statement that called the judge’s order “a historic victory.” The organization plans to continue with additional challenges in Minnesota, Michigan, Massachusetts and Oregon.

Trump stated through a link on his social media platform, Truth Social, that “Illinois just ruled to STRIP their citizens of their right to vote for me.” The post linked to a fundraising webpage run by the Save America Joint Fundraising Committee, the organization responsible for the sale of official Donald Trump merchandise.

Porter acknowledged the order’s proximity to the state’s March 19 primary election and the confusion it may cause. Due to the abbreviated timeline, the order was paused until March 1, the same date Trump must appeal by.

The order comes as the US Supreme Court is set to rule on Colorado’s decision to remove Trump from their ballot.