Citing Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment, also known as the Insurrectionist Disqualification Clause, Illinois Objectors argue that Trump is disqualified from public office after inciting the violent January 6th Capitol insurrection.

CHICAGO, IL (January 4, 2024) – Free Speech For People (FSFP), along with Illinois co-counsel Hughes Socol Piers Resnick & Dym and Illinois election lawyer Ed Mullen, filed an objection today before the Illinois Board of Elections on behalf of a group of Illinois voters from across the state, challenging Donald Trump’s eligibility to appear on the state’s presidential primary and general election ballot. The objection (technically, “Objectors’ Petition”) asks the board to fulfill its duties under the Illinois Election Code and bar Trump from appearing on the state ballot because he filed invalid candidacy papers, attesting he is “qualified” for the presidency when  Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment disqualifies him from holding office.  

Enacted in the wake of the Civil War, Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment disqualifies from public office any individual who has taken an oath to uphold the U.S. Constitution and then engages in insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or gives aid or comfort to its enemies–regardless of a prior criminal conviction. Trump’s involvement in the violent attack on Congress to prevent the certification of democratic election results disqualifies him from holding any future public office.

The State board has heard and decided other challenges to major party presidential candidates based on federal constitutional qualifications. Illinois Supreme Court precedent directs that Illinois electoral boards must evaluate objections that candidates have improperly attested that they meet candidacy qualifications, including those in the state and U.S. Constitution. The Illinois objectors call on the board to do so based on Section 3’s clear application to Trump’s candidacy.

“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,” said 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.”

“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. 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,” said attorney Caryn Lederer.   

The Illinois objectors join voters across the country seeking to uphold constitutional candidacy requirements. Free Speech For People also represents voters in legal challenges to Trump’s eligibility to appear on the ballot in Minnesota, Michigan and Oregon. The state supreme courts of Minnesota and Michigan have ruled solely on state law procedural grounds that Trump will not be barred from the presidential primary ballot, but have left the door open for the challenges to be renewed for the general election.  The Oregon challenge is currently pending review before the Oregon Supreme Court.

Both the Colorado Supreme Court and the Maine Secretary of State recently issued rulings that Trump is disqualified from appearing on their state ballots under Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment. The Illinois objection is poised to obtain the same result. 

The presidential Section 3 cases build on key challenges against Georgia Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene and former North Carolina Congressman Madison Cawthorn for their role in the January 6th insurrection that set important legal precedent on Section 3.  Those cases established that states have legal authority to adjudicate Section 3 challenges; that state processes for adjudicating Section 3 challenges do not violate a candidate’s constitutional rights; that no prior criminal conviction is required for a Section 3 challenge; that words (including “marching orders  or instructions to disrupt or obstruct a particular government proceeding”) can constitute engaging in insurrection; and that amnesty Congress granted in 1872 to ex-Confederates does not apply to January 6.

On September 6, 2022, Judge Francis J. Matthew of New Mexico’s First District permanently enjoined Otero County Commissioner and “Cowboys for Trump” founder Couy Griffin from holding office under the Insurrectionist Disqualification Clause.

Free Speech For People, a national nonpartisan legal advocacy group, has spearheaded the nationwide effort to “hold insurrectionists accountable for their role in the violent assault on American democracy” that took place on January 6th, 2021, starting with the issuance in June 2021 of letters to secretaries of state and chief election officials in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Along with Mi Familia Vota, the group launched, a campaign calling on Secretaries of State and top election officials across the country to follow the mandate of Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment and permanently bar Donald Trump–and all other elected officials who participated in the January 6th insurrection–from any future ballot. 

Hughes Socol Piers Resnick & Dym is a Chicago-based law firm with a national practice dedicated to complex public interest litigation.  HSPRD litigates individual and class action cases to secure voting rights and fair elections, to protect fundamental constitutional rights; to fight discrimination in the workplace, in housing, and in education; to battle police, law enforcement, and other governmental misconduct; to protect the rights of low-wage workers and immigrants; and to protect whistleblowers and expose fraud against the government. The firm has a long history of bringing cases in Illinois and across the country to safeguard fundamental constitutional and statutory rights.

Click here to read the Objection.

To learn more about the case, click here.

To learn more about Free Speech For People’s other actions under Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment, click here.