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)

A retired Republican judge, Clark Erickson, has recommended that former President Donald Trump be excluded from Illinois’ primary ballot, citing his alleged involvement in the January 6, 2021, Capitol attack as insurrection. Serving as the hearing officer on a voters’ challenge to Trump’s eligibility, Erickson presented his 21-page recommendation to the evenly divided Illinois State Officers Electoral Board.

During Friday’s proceedings, attorneys for Trump and citizens advocating for his exclusion presented their arguments. The electoral board, composed of both Republicans and Democrats, is set to deliberate on the recommendation this Tuesday.

Erickson asserted that a “preponderance of the evidence” supports the claim that Trump engaged in insurrection. However, he suggested that the complex constitutional analysis required for removal should be left to the courts, likening the board’s role to “scheduling a two-minute round between heavyweight boxers in a telephone booth.”

Despite his recommendation, Erickson emphasized that even if the board disagrees with his reasoning, Trump’s name should be removed from the Illinois primary ballot. Free Speech for People, leading the Illinois ballot effort, praised Erickson’s recommendation as “significant” but argued that Illinois law empowers the board to make the final decision.

Ron Fein, legal director for the group, expressed confidence that the board and Illinois courts would uphold Erickson’s analysis but anticipated clarification on Illinois law.

This Illinois case mirrors similar efforts in several states, with the U.S. Supreme Court scheduled to hear arguments next month regarding a Colorado Supreme Court ruling seeking Trump’s removal from that state’s ballot. The case involves a provision of the 14th Amendment barring individuals who “engaged in insurrection” from holding public office.