Republican ex-judge argued Trump engaged in insurrection, should be removed from Illinois primary ballot

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A retired Republican judge is arguing that former President Donald Trump ought to be removed from Illinois’ primary ballot for allegedly engaging in an insurrection in the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol. 

Former longtime Kankakee County Judge Clark Erickson, acting as hearing officer on voters’ challenge to the former president’s eligibility, issued the recommendation to the Illinois State Officers Electoral Board, which is split evenly between Republicans and Democrats. 

Attorneys for Trump and citizens seeking to keep the Republican former president off the ballot presented their arguments before Erickson on Friday. The Illinois State Officers Electoral Board is expected to consider the recommendation on Tuesday.  

Erickson’s 21-page recommendation concluded that a “preponderance of the evidence” presented proves that Trump engaged in insurrection.


Republican presidential candidate, former U.S. President Donald Trump points to supporters at the conclusion of a campaign rally at the Atkinson Country Club on January 16, 2024 in Atkinson, New Hampshire. (Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

But he said the election board can’t engage in the “significant and sophisticated constitutional analysis” required to remove Trump’s name before the March 19 primary. He said the decision should ultimately be left to the courts.

He likened the board’s attempt to resolve the constitutional question to “scheduling a two-minute round between heavyweight boxers in a telephone booth.” 

Still, Erickson noted that even if the board disagrees with his reasoning, Trump’s name should be removed from the Illinois primary ballot.

Free Speech for People, which is leading the Illinois ballot effort, praised Erickson’s recommendation as “significant” but argued that Illinois law allows the board to make the ballot decision.

Trump and fans standing outside, crowd with Trump signs

FILE: Republican presidential candidate, former U.S. President Donald Trump visits a polling site at Londonderry High School on primary day, on January 23, 2024 in Londonderry, New Hampshire. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

“We expect that the board and ultimately Illinois courts will uphold Judge Erickson’s thoughtful analysis of why Trump is disqualified from office, but — with the greatest respect — correct him on why Illinois law authorizes that ruling,” Ron Fein, legal director for the group, wrote in a Sunday statement.

The Illinois saga echoes similar efforts in several other states. The U.S. Supreme Court is set to hear arguments next month in a historic Colorado Supreme Court ruling to remove Trump from that state’s ballot. 

The case presents the high court with its first look at a provision of the 14th Amendment barring some people who “engaged in insurrection” from holding public office.


Fox News Digital has reached out to the Trump campaign for comment. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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