Trump remains on ballot in Illinois, state board rules

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The Illinois State Board of Elections on Tuesday rejected a complaint that accused former President Donald J. Trump of insurrection while trying to remain in office after losing the 2020 election, and that sought to disqualify him from the state's primary elections.

The eight-member appointed board, which includes four Democrats and four Republicans, unanimously determined that Trump could appear on the March 19 ballot and that the board did not have the authority to decide whether he had participated in an insurrection. Lawyers for residents who challenged Trump's eligibility said they planned to appeal in court.

Although the Illinois result was a victory for Trump, the process revealed potential vulnerabilities in his arguments as the U.S. Supreme Court considers a separate case in Colorado over whether he is eligible for this year's election.

Two Republicans who heard the Illinois case — an election board member who is a former prosecutor and a former judge appointed by the board to hear arguments — said they believed Trump had participated in an insurrection on Jan. 6, 2021, when a riot broke out. riot. by his supporters at the United States Capitol disrupted the certification of the presidential election.

“There is no doubt in my mind that he manipulated, abetted, aided and abetted an insurrection on January 6,” Catherine S. McCrory, a Republican board member, said before casting her vote Tuesday in a conference room in downtown Chicago.

Clark Erickson, the former Republican judge appointed to hear arguments in the case, reached similar conclusions. In an opinion made public over the weekend, Erickson said he believed Trump had participated in an insurrection. But he said he did not believe the board had the authority to disqualify Trump on those grounds and that the issue should be left to the courts.

“The evidence shows that President Trump understood the divided political climate in the United States,” wrote Erickson, who previously served as a state judge in Kankakee County. He added that Trump “exploited that climate for his own political gain by falsely and publicly claiming that the election had been stolen from him, despite every piece of evidence showing that his claim was demonstrably false.”

Trump, the Republican presidential front-runner, has faced official challenges to his candidacy in 35 states and has so far been declared ineligible for primaries in two of them, Colorado and Maine. Trump will likely still appear on the primary ballots in both states because ineligibility decisions are on hold while the U.S. Supreme Court considers an appeal of the Colorado ruling. Courts in several other states have allowed Trump to remain on their primary ballots.

Illinois' challenge, like those of other states, is based on a clause in the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that prohibits government officials who “engaged in an insurrection or rebellion” from holding public office.

Trump's lawyers have repeatedly denied that he participated in an insurrection and argued that in any case the constitutional clause in question did not apply to the presidency. Adam Merrill, an attorney for the former president, said he was satisfied with the board's vote and that his client was prepared to file an appeal in court.

Ron Fein, legal director for Free Speech for People, which helped bring challenges in Illinois and other states, said in a statement that he believed the courts would overturn the board's decision.

Illinois, a Democratic stronghold in presidential politics, is not expected to be competitive in the November general election. But it is a delegate-rich state where the Republican primary could help Trump secure his party's nomination.

Many observers expect the US Supreme Court to make the final decision on the question of Trump's eligibility. Oral arguments before the court in the Colorado appeal are scheduled for February 8.

Meanwhile, with the primary season underway and Trump maintaining a commanding lead on the Republican side, challenges to his electability remain unresolved in more than 15 states.



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