Illinois Judge Kicks Trump Off State’s Republican Primary Ballot

Michael B. Thomas/Getty Images
Michael B. Thomas/Getty Images

An Illinois judge on Wednesday evening ordered Donald Trump’s name to be removed from the state’s Republican presidential primary ballot, but temporarily put her own ruling on ice to give a higher court a chance to contradict her decision.

Cook County Circuit Judge Tracie R. Porter agreed with the group of five Illinois voters who filed the suit, arguing that Trump was ineligible to take another shot at the White House under the 14th Amendment, a section of which bars any “officer of the United States” from holding office if they’ve previously engaged in “insurrection or rebellion.”

But she stayed her order until Friday “in anticipation of an appeal” to Illinois’ appellate court or the state Supreme Court. Porter also noted that her ruling would be indefinitely stayed should the U.S. Supreme Court decide differently on the matter.

Spokesman Steven Cheung confirmed to The Daily Beast in a statement that the Trump campaign planned to quickly appeal the “unconstitutional” decision. He accused the plaintiffs in the case of being “Soros-funded Democrat front-groups” trying to “deny President Trump his rightful place on the ballot,” and slammed Porter as “an activist Democrat judge.”

The Supreme Court is expected to settle the question of Trump’s eligibility under the so-called insurrection clause for the entire country. It has indicated it will hand down its ruling ahead of March 5, the rapidly approaching date known as Super Tuesday when 15 states and one U.S. territory will hold their primaries. (The Illinois primary is on March 19.)

Free Speech for People, the voting rights nonprofit that spearheaded the effort to file the suit, celebrated Porter’s ruling as a “historic victory” in a statement to The Daily Beast.

The judge rejected all the various “gimmicks” that Trump tried to use to get the suit tossed, instead finding that he “incited, fomented, and facilitated” the events of Jan. 6, 2021, the organization said.

“Judge Porter’s reasoned decision contributes to the growing consensus of courts recognizing and condemning Trump’s decisive role in the attack on the Capitol,” said attorney Caryn Lederer, who represented the plaintiffs. “The decision recognizes the importance of rule of law and upholding the mandate of the U.S. Constitution.”

Wednesday’s decision comes after last month’s unanimous ruling by the Illinois Board of Elections, a panel made up of four Democrats and four Republicans, to dismiss the same case, saying that only the courts had the authority to decide on the matter.

“This Republican believes that there was an insurrection on January 6th,” board member Catherine S. McCrory said, adding of Trump, “There is no doubt in my mind that he manipulated, instigated, aided, and abetted an insurrection on January 6th. However, having said that, it is not my place to rule on that today.”

Matthew Piers, another lawyer for the plaintiffs, characterized the board’s decision at the time as “an avoidance of a hot potato issue.”

“We’re disappointed,” he added, according to CBS Chicago, “but we always knew that this case was going to be determined in the courts.”

Porter’s order leaned heavily on the Colorado Supreme Court, which set a precedent in December when it declared that Trump was ineligible for the White House. The Colorado decision is the one currently before the U.S. Supreme Court, which has already signaled its skepticism of the ruling. But Porter called the rationale for the decision “compelling.”

Trump was also booted off the ballot in Maine, where the Democratic secretary of state found that he had deployed “a false narrative of election fraud to inflame his supporters.” Both the decisions in Maine and Colorado similarly remain on hold, with Trump’s name still on the ballots there until the nation’s high court has the final word on the issue.

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