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Illinois and Massachusetts Voters Join Effort to Boot Trump Off State Ballots

A growing number of scholars, lawyers, advocacy groups and voters argue Trump is disqualified under the 14th Amendment.

Former President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign event at the Hyatt Hotel on December 13, 2023, in Coralville, Iowa.

Just two days away from the anniversary of the January 6, 2021 insurrection, voters in Illinois and Massachusetts on Thursday joined the nationwide effort to boot former Republican U.S. President Donald Trump off state ballots on constitutional grounds.

Since Trump’s attempts to overturn his 2020 loss to Democratic President Joe Biden culminated in his supporters attacking the U.S. Capitol three years ago, a growing number of scholars, lawyers, advocacy groups, and voters have argued that the Republican is disqualified from holding office again under the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

The amendment bars anyone who has taken an oath to the Constitution and then engaged in “insurrection or rebellion” from holding “any office, civil or military.” Despite that, and his various criminal cases — including two related to 2020 election interference — Trump is the Republican front-runner to challenge Biden, who is seeking reelection this year.

“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,” Free Speech for People (FSFP) legal director Ron Fein said in a statement.

“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,” he added. “Trump is legally barred from the ballot.”

FSFP has joined with local attorneys to represent voters behind previously filed 14th Amendment cases in Michigan, Minnesota, and Oregon as well as the objections filed Thursday with the Illinois State Board of Elections and Massachusetts State Ballot Law Commission.

“Our country faces a crisis in Trump’s bid for reelection. We cannot let a candidate who revels in undermining the rule of law continue his candidacy in clear violation of a constitutional mandate,” said Illinois attorney Caryn Lederer. “In Illinois, the electoral board has a mandatory duty to keep disqualified candidates off the ballot. As the growing consensus of legal decisions show, Trump engaged in insurrection; he cannot run for president.”

Massachusetts litigator Shannon Liss-Riordan stressed that “today’s legal action is not about partisan politics but about upholding our Constitution, and that is why Massachusetts voters across the political spectrum have joined together to challenge Donald Trump’s wrongful placement on the Massachusetts ballot.”

“As two other states have already recognized, Donald Trump’s instigation of and participation in the insurrection three years ago provide overwhelming cause for his disqualification from holding office in the United States,” Liss-Riordan added.

Thursday’s filings come as the right-wing U.S. Supreme Court — which has three Trump appointees — has already been asked to review the Colorado Supreme Court’s December decision to kick him off the state primary ballot. Last week, Democratic Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellows also removed Trump from her state’s primary ballot.

Both of those decisions are on hold pending court review. Trump has filed appeals and blamed disqualifications on Biden, who is not involved in any 14th Amendment cases — a trend campaign spokesperson Steven Cheung continued in response to the new voter objections.

“These shams are all part of a coordinated election interference… campaign designed to disenfranchise millions of American voters by depriving them of the right to vote for the candidate of their choice because Crooked Joe’s allies see the writing on the wall, President Trump is winning and Biden is losing,” Cheung told WBEZ Thursday.

WBEZ noted that “Illinois could be a politically hospitable legal venue” for a battle similar to the one which led to the Colorado disqualification, explaining that “if the State Board of Elections sidesteps the question, the dispute could move into a state court system governed by the Illinois Supreme Court, where Democrats hold a 5-2 majority.”

The Colorado case was launched in September by the government watchdog Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) and law firms representing six GOP and unaffiliated voters, who filed a response to Trump’s appeal on Thursday.

“The facts and the law are clear: Donald Trump is disqualified from holding office under the 14th Amendment after he incited the January 6th insurrection following his loss in the 2020 election,” said CREW president and CEO Noah Bookbinder. “The Supreme Court of Colorado came to the right conclusion in favor of our clients, and the U.S. Supreme Court must now uphold it.”

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