Illinois has joined the ranks of states questioning the eligibility of former President Donald Trump to appear on the primary ballot.
A petition filed against the Illinois State Board of Elections by five local voters challenges the “legal and factual sufficiency of the nomination papers” of Donald J. Trump as a candidate for the Republican Nomination for the Office of the President of the United States.
The voters are being represented by Free Speech for People, along with Illinois co-counsel Hughes Socol Piers Resnick & Dym and Illinois election lawyer Ed Mullen.
Free Speech for People has been at the forefront of the legal theory asserting that President Trump is disqualified from holding office under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, and consequently, should be excluded from the 2024 primary election ballots.
Their argument centers on the belief that the events of January 6, 2021, constituted an insurrection, and President Trump was involved in it. In January 2021, the group sent letters to election officials nationwide, urging them to prevent Trump from appearing on future ballots.
Approximately 60 challenges based on this theory have been filed across the country in recent months, with legal experts providing varying opinions on whether states can enforce Section 3 disqualification. The situation is further complicated by the fact that different states have diverse election procedure laws, granting varying levels of authority to secretaries of state in determining a candidate’s eligibility.
“Donald Trump violated his oath of office and incited a violent insurrection that attacked the U.S. Capitol, threatened the assassination of the vice president and Congressional leaders, and disrupted the peaceful transfer of power for the first time in our nation’s history,” stated Ron Fein, legal director at Free Speech For People.
“Our predecessors understood that oath-breaking insurrectionists will do it again, and worse, if allowed back into power, so they enacted the Insurrectionist Disqualification Clause to protect the republic from people like Trump.“Trump is legally barred from the ballot.”
Section 3 of the 14th Amendment explicitly states that “No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice-President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any state, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any state, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof.
However, Congress may, by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.”
This constitutional provision, established after the Civil War, specifically aimed to prevent individuals who abandoned their positions to join the Confederacy from returning to office.
The petition filed in Illinois mirrors similar lawsuits initiated by the group in Oregon, Michigan, and Minnesota. These legal actions characterize the events of January 6, 2021, as premeditated violence.