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 February 17, 2024

Trump's attorneys battle in Illinois over whether state election officials can remove his name for the GOP primary ballot

Cook County Circuit Court Judge Tracie Porter could rule by late next week whether former President Donald Trump will remain on the primary ballot in Illinois, WJBD Radio reported. However, the judge warned that the fight will likely continue all the way to the state's supreme court.

Five voters in the Prairie State sued to keep Trump off the ballot as he continues through the GOP primary process. They've claimed that his actions during the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol amounted to an insurrection, which should disqualify him.

That assertion is currently in question at the U.S. Supreme Court due to another case in another state. However, Porter will decide what situations permit Illinois election officials to remove a candidate from the ballot.

The legal argument from the group of voters is that Trump lied when filing for his candidacy in certifying that he was qualified to hold the office for which he was running. They claim that his involvement in the Jan. 6 incident nullifies his eligibility to run and that he lied about it.

The Whole Truth

The Illinois State Board of Elections officials chose not to remove Trump from the ballot because they didn't believe he "knowingly lied" on his application about his qualifications. Carolyn Lederer, who represents the group of voters, scoffed at such a standard.

Lederer argued that intent to make a false statement has never been the threshold for disqualifying candidates. She pointed to other reasons, such as residency requirements, that have been used to bar candidates from running without that standard.

"In addition to a complete lack of legal support, this new standard would be impossible to enforce," the attorney claimed. Lederer said the board had "profoundly problematic interpretations of Illinois law."

Trump's attorney Adam Merrill, who acknowledged that Jan. 6 protesters were "repugnant" and "deplorable," believes Lederer's argument is incorrect.  Merrill said that lying on an official document carries the penalties of perjury, which indeed has legal support for the standard.

"This is not new, this is not different, this is not going to jeopardize candidates in the future," Merrill argued. Trump's legal team believes this is just one of several arguments that will ultimately dismantle the Illinois case.

Trump's Solid Defense

While those in Illinois are attempting to make the case against Trump using the supposed insurrection, the former president's attorneys believe it won't stand. The problem for Trump's adversaries is that the underlying assumption is a weak lynch pin in their argument.

The problem is that there's still no official word that Jan. 6 was an insurrection that would trigger the 14th Amendment's insurrection clause. Even if it did, the clause doesn't address whether it bars someone from running for president or any other office, among other legal sticking points.

"If the court or the board were to agree with the candidate on any one of these issues, it would end the case," Nicholas Nelson, Trump's attorney, said. The defense further stated that these are political rather than legal issues, which Lederer strenuously objected to.

"The reality is the State Board of Elections is the place to determine if Jan. 6 was an insurrection or if Donald Trump engaged in an insurrection. Our democracy was attacked on Jan. 6. There is no serious dispute that President Trump’s efforts to stop the transfer of power as a reason … to keep him in power and keep him as president," Lederer argued, the Chicago Tribune reported.

Several state governments are making unprecedented moves to keep Trump out of office. However, those who wish to vanquish Trump forever using Jan. 6 and the flimsy legal arguments that flow from it are having a difficult time succeeding.

Written By:
Christine Favocci

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