Trump to appeal ruling barring him from Illinois primary ballot over January 6 role

An Illinois state judge on Wednesday barred Donald Trump from appearing on the Illinois Republican presidential primary ballot because of his role in the attack at the US Capitol on January 6, but she delayed her ruling from taking effect in light of an expected appeal by the former US president.

The Cook county circuit judge Tracie Porter sided with Illinois voters who argued that the former president should be disqualified from the state’s March 19 primary ballot and its 5 November general election ballot for violating the anti-insurrection clause of the US constitution’s 14th amendment.

Illinois joins Colorado and Maine in attempts to disqualify Trump from running for president because of his role in the 6 January insurrection, in which Trump supporters stormed the US Capitol to try to stop Congress from certifying Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential election.

Trump is currently appealing those decisions to the supreme court, which is seen as likely to reject the states’ attempts to remove the former president from their ballots.

The Colorado and Maine decisions are on hold while Trump appeals. Porter said she was also staying her decision because she expected Trump’s appeal to Illinois’ appellate courts, and a potential ruling from the supreme court.

The advocacy group Free Speech for People, which spearheaded the Illinois disqualification effort, praised the ruling as a “historic victory”.

A campaign spokesperson for Trump, the national frontrunner for the 2024 Republican nomination, said in a statement that this “is an unconstitutional ruling that we will quickly appeal”.

In oral arguments on 8 February, the US supreme court appeared skeptical of arguments for removing Trump from Colorado’s primary ballot, and analysts suggested the court was poised to allow Trump to remain on the ballot.

The court’s chief justice, John Roberts, suggested that if the supreme court allowed Colorado to take Trump off the ballot, then the “big, plain consequences” of the decision would be a scenario in which states regularly disqualified candidates from parties they opposed.

“I would expect that a goodly number of states will say whoever the Democratic candidate is, you’re off the ballot, and others, for the Republican candidate, you’re off the ballot. It will come down to just a handful of states that are going to decide the presidential election. That’s a pretty daunting consequence,” Robert said.

“What’s a state doing deciding who other citizens get to vote for for president?” the liberal justice Elena Kagan said.

The justices focused more on the potential consequences of their decision than on whether or not Trump engaged in insurrection on 6 January and thus should be barred from holding office.

Colorado and Maine earlier removed Trump from their state ballots after determining he is disqualified under section 3 of the 14th amendment to the constitution, which was created in the wake of the US civil war.

Section 3 bars from public office anyone who took an oath to support the US constitution and then “engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof”.

In her opinion, Porter wrote that she had considered Colorado’s ruling in her decision, and noted that the court “did not reach its conclusions lightly” and that it “realized the magnitude of this decision”.

Reuters contributed to this report

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