Illinois election board rules unanimously against removing Trump from state's primary election ballot

 January 31, 2024

Former President Donald Trump just notched another win in the series of state-level 14th Amendment-related ballot removal challenges against him based on his purported role in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot and "insurrection" of 2021.

The Illinois State Board of Elections issued a unanimous decision on Tuesday to not remove Trump from the ballot for the state's upcoming March 19 primary election, even as some members believed that Trump was complicit in the "insurrection" and ineligible to serve as president again, The Western Journal reported.

It was ultimately determined that regardless of how the individual members may feel, the board lacked the authority to render a decision on the former president's ballot eligibility, as that issue was best left for courts to rule on -- a decision that Trump cheered as a victory.

Trump prevails again

"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," former President Trump wrote in a Truth Social post following the Tuesday decision.

He added, "The VOTE was 8-0 in favor of keeping your favorite President (ME!), on the Ballot. I love Illinois. Make America Great Again!"

Trump's victory came against a left-leaning activist group known ironically as Free Speech for People, which seeks to silence the former president's political speech and disenfranchise his voters by removing their candidate of choice from the ballot in multiple states across the country.

Board concludes 14th Amendment eligibility issue is one for the courts to decide

ABC News reported that the Illinois election board held a more than two-hour meeting on Tuesday to address the challenge against former President Trump's ballot eligibility in light of the claims that his actions in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot constituted an "insurrection" under the 14th Amendment and disqualified him from holding office.

The board's hearing officer, a retired Republican judge, informed members that "a preponderance of the evidence" strongly suggested that Trump had "engaged in insurrection" but that it wasn't an issue for the board to decide, as he added, "The Election Code is simply not suited for issues involving constitutional analysis. Those issues belong in the Courts."

A similar conclusion, albeit from vastly different starting points, was shared with the board by Trump's attorney, Adam Merrill, who told the members, "Trump did not engage in insurrection, as that term is used in the Constitution."

"It is a complicated legal term that has been rarely interpreted and it wasn't even articulated correctly by the hearing officer in this case and, frankly, never should have reached it because of the lack of evidence, and because of the lack of jurisdiction," the lawyer added.

Activist group will appeal Illinois' board's decision

The conclusion that the courts should be allowed to decide the matter -- the Supreme Court will soon hear arguments and rule on the Colorado Supreme Court's decision to remove Trump from its primary ballot -- was shared unanimously by all eight members of the Illinois election board, according to The Hill, even as one member spoke ahead of the vote of her belief that the former president was guilty of engaging in an insurrection.

"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 Associated Press reported that the Free Speech for People group was disappointed in the board's decision and vowed to appeal it in the Illinois court system.

The group's attorney, Matthew Piers, told reporters after the ruling, "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."

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