Donald Trump's lawyers seek reversal of ruling that dropped former president from Illinois GOP primary ballot

Rick Pearson, Chicago Tribune on

Published in Political News

CHICAGO — Lawyers for former President Donald Trump are appealing a Cook County circuit judge’s ruling that Trump’s name should be struck from the March 19 Illinois Republican primary ballot because of his role in the deadly Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol.

In a notice of appeal filed with the state’s 1st Appellate Court late Wednesday, Trump’s lawyers asked that Cook County Judge Tracie Porter’s ruling be reversed, and that the former president’s name be reinstated on the ballot and that votes cast for him be counted.

Porter had stayed her order pending appeal and clarified Thursday that it was on hold “until the appeal is fully and finally resolved” by higher courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court.

Porter on Wednesday found that Trump engaged in insurrection in the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol aimed at blocking the counting of Electoral College votes that made Democrat Joe Biden president. She based her ruling on evidence and findings made in Colorado, where the state Supreme Court’s Democratic majority voted 4-3 in December to remove Trump from that state’s ballot based on the “insurrection clause” of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

With Porter’s ruling, Illinois became the third state to toss Trump off the ballot. The Maine secretary of state, the chief election authority in that state, also removed the former president from the state’s ballot in December. As in Colorado, the Maine decision is on hold until the nation’s Supreme Court rules.

Porter found that in signing his statement of candidacy for the Illinois Republican primary ballot on Jan. 4 of this year, Trump “falsely swore” that he was “‘legally qualified’ for the presidency because the Colorado Supreme Court had already ruled that the former president “had been found to engage in insurrection.”

Porter’s ruling came in an appeal of a bipartisan 8-0 decision by the State Board of Elections on Jan. 30 to reject efforts backed by the group Free Speech for People to disqualify Trump from the primary ballot.


The elections board said it was prevented by previous Illinois Supreme Court rulings from using constitutional analysis to determine candidate qualifications for the ballot. It also said Trump was eligible for the primary because he did not “knowingly lie” when he signed his statement of candidacy.

Porter, however, ruled that the state election board’s rationale for keeping Trump on the ballot was “without basis and contrary to existing Illinois law.”

Trump’s attorneys had argued that states do not have the power to act on the “insurrection clause” without authorization from Congress, that the 14th Amendment’s section on insurrection does not apply to the office of president, and that the former president’s actions on the day of the Capitol riot did not amount to insurrection. Porter rejected those arguments.

Under the structure of the Illinois Republican presidential primary, striking Trump’s name from the ballot would have minimal consequences for the GOP front-runner’s bid for the party’s nomination at the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee in July.

Illinois sends 64 presidential nominating delegates to Milwaukee,13 at large and 51 who are elected — three from each of the state’s 17 congressional districts — and pledged to a candidate. The 13 at large delegates are pledged to the winner of the statewide presidential preference primary election, meaning Trump could not collect their votes if he were not on the ballot. But the district delegates pledged to Trump would not be affected by the court action.

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