CHICAGO–In a historic ruling, Judge Tracie Porter of the Cook County Circuit Court in Illinois ruled today that Donald Trump engaged in insurrection and is disqualified from the presidency under Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment (the Insurrectionist Disqualification Clause). This makes Illinois the third state (after Colorado and Maine) to rule that Trump is disqualified. 

“This is a historic victory,” said Ron Fein, Legal Director of Free Speech For People, which serves as co-lead counsel in the matter, along with Illinois co-counsel Hughes Socol Piers Resnick & Dym and Illinois election lawyer Ed Mullen. “Every court or official that has addressed the merits of Trump’s constitutional eligibility has found that he engaged in insurrection after taking the oath of office and is therefore disqualified from the presidency.”

Like the Illinois court, the Colorado Supreme Court and Maine’s Secretary of State have held that Trump incited and engaged in the January 6th insurrection and is therefore ineligible to hold future public office under Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment. The Colorado case is currently on appeal before the U.S. Supreme Court. Trump had asked Judge Porter to stay the court’s proceedings until the U.S. Supreme Court decides the Colorado case, but both Judge Porter and an Illinois appellate court denied the stay. 

“Judge Porter’s reasoned decision contributes to the growing consensus of courts recognizing and condemning Trump’s decisive role in the January 6th attack on the Capitol,” said HSPRD attorney Caryn Lederer. “The decision recognizes the importance of rule of law and upholding the mandate of the U.S. Constitution.”



A diverse group of Illinois voters, represented by Free Speech For People and the Chicago firm of Hughes Socol Piers Resnick & Dym and Illinois election lawyer Ed Mullen, initiated the challenge before the Illinois State Officers Electoral Board on January 4, 2024. The Electoral Board’s hearing officer, Republican former Illinois judge Clark Erickson, found that Donald Trump engaged in insurrection and is disqualified under Section 3. In his recommendation to the Board, Judge Clark Erickson found that the Illinois Election Code  did not give the Electoral Board authority to decide the merits of the challenge, but if the Board were to reach the merits, it should find that “the evidence presented at the hearing on January 26, 2024 proves by a preponderance of the evidence that President Trump engaged in insurrection, within the meaning of Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment, and should have his name removed from the March, 2024 primary ballot in Illinois.” Judge Erickson held that while the evidence directs this determination, the ultimate decision should be made by a court, rather than the Electoral Board.

Taking a different procedural position, the Board dismissed the challenge on the ground that even if Section 3 required Trump’s disqualification,  Trump’s Statement of Candidacy is not “knowingly” false because he subjectively believes that he is not disqualified, adopting an unprecedented requirement that would undermine all Board candidate qualification reviews. The Board did not accept Trump’s arguments that he did not engage in insurrection, or that Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment does not apply to him. In fact, one of the Republican members of the Board specifically noted that she agreed that Trump engaged in insurrection.


Today’s decision

In today’s ruling, Judge Porter categorically rejected the Board’s interpretation and reversed the Electoral Board. She also rejected Trump’s arguments that he did not engage in insurrection, that he did not swear an oath to support the Constitution, that the presidency is not an office under the United States, and various other gimmicks that Trump tried to use to avoid the merits. Instead, she found that Donald Trump incited, fomented, and facilitated the violent January 6, 2021 insurrection that overran the U.S. Capitol, nearly assassinated the vice president and congressional leaders, obstructed the congressional certification of electoral votes from the 2020 presidential election, and, for the first time in our nation’s history, disrupted the peaceful transfer of power.

Judge Porter ordered the Electoral Board to remove Trump’s name from ballots.  Implementation of the order is stayed if, by March 1, Trump appeals the ruling to the Illinois Appellate Court or Illinois Supreme Court or if the US Supreme Court issues a ruling in Trump v. Anderson which is inconsistent with this ruling.


Read the order here.