Donald Trump to stay on Illinois ballot; board declines to remove him over 14th Amendment

CHICAGO (CBS) — Former President Donald Trump’s name will stay on the ballot in the March primary in Illinois after the state’s election board ruled Tuesday it doesn’t have the authority to determine whether he violated the insurrection clause of the 14th Amendment.

At a hearing Tuesday morning, the Illinois State Board of Elections agreed with a hearing officer’s recommendation that it’s up to the courts, and not the board, to decide whether Trump is barred from running for president under the 14th Amendment.

A hearing officer for the board retired Republican Kankakee County Judge Clark Erickson, had issued a report finding that while Trump engaged in insurrection on Jan. 6, 2021, Illinois Supreme Court precedent prevents the state’s Board of Elections from engaging in the “significant and sophisticated constitutional analysis” needed to rule on removing Trump from the ballot.

Erickson found Trump was involved in an insurrection on Jan. 6, 2021, by using false claims that the 2020 election was stolen to inflame his supporters and try to stay in office after losing to Joe Biden.

“The evidence shows that President Trump understood the divided political climate in the United States. He understood and exploited that climate for his own political gain by falsely and publicly claiming the election was stolen from him, even though every single piece of evidence demonstrated that his claim was demonstrably false,” Erickson wrote.

However, Erickson held that the constitutional question of whether Trump violated the 14th Amendment and is not qualified to run for president again is a decision that must be made by the courts and not by the state election board.

The eight-member Illinois State Board of Elections, which is split evenly between Republicans and Democrats, ruled unanimously to uphold Erickson’s findings and dismiss an objection to Trump’s candidacy, meaning Trump will stay on the ballot for the March primary unless a court challenge successfully removes him.

According to law professor Martin Redish of Northwestern University, the U.S. Supreme Court will likely have the final say. He said he sees valid arguments for the court to allow states to remove Trump’s name, but that’s unlikely.

“I find it difficult to believe that the U.S. Supreme Court will allow states to remove him from the ballot,” Redish said. “I don’t know what offramp they’re going to find, but I think they’re going to try as a practical matter to avoid reaching that conclusion.”

If the Supreme Court says it would be unconstitutional to bar Trump from the ballot, that would stop efforts to remove his name in all 18 states dead in their tracks.

If the court rules Trump ineligible for the ballot because of Section III of the 14th Amendment, the decision to remove him will return to the individual states.

The U.S. Supreme Court is slated to hear arguments in early February. How soon they will make a decision will be up to the justices.

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