What say you?

Currently making the rounds in media and political circles, discussions about Donald Trump and the disqualification clause of the US Constitution:

At issue is whether this section of the Constitution means Donald Trump cannot run again for president. Ever. Or for any other federal or state office.

Some sources contend that this section was written immediately after the Civil War and ratified in 1868, and is not applicable today. They insist it was intended only to prohibit from office those who fought against the Union in that war.

There’s no ambiguity here, no exception, no time limitation. The words are still there. The meanings of “insurrection” and “rebellion” have not evolved or changed since the Civil War. And taking an oath to support the Constitution means the same thing today as it did then.

For those interested, one of the most comprehensive discussions of this issue appears in The Atlantic. Also excellent and a shorter, less scholarly, article: “The case for Donald Trump’s disqualification under the 14th Amendment,” from CREW, the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.

Both sides in the issue want to get the matter into court, hoping to appeal it to the Supreme Court and get a ruling before Trump’s name gets on ballots across the country next year. But time is short and it’s Trump’s court, with three of the conservative justices indebted to him for their appointments, so the outcome is anything but certain. At the very least it will test the court’s devotion to the Constitution instead of Trump. At most, it could disqualify Donald Trump from the 2024 presidential race … and from all future runs for office.

In the meantime, Section 3 is enforceable through civil lawsuits challenging a candidate’s eligibility to hold office. Or, in the alternative and as stated in the Constitution, a two-thirds vote in both the House and Senate could absolve Trump from the disqualification.

The plot thickens.

From Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington

10 thoughts on “What say you?

    1. Certainly those who took an oath to defend the Constitution would be declared ineligible. But many of them are/were just employees or appointees. Not sure it would include them. Personally, I wouldn’t hire anyone who’d been convicted of conspiring against the country, and we may end up with many such convicts before this is all over. Or the Supreme Court may decide this clause is not applicable in modern America.

  1. So how do all those strict Constitutionalists worm their way around this quite unambiguous amendment? I was going to call them Originalists, but I’m not sure if that description includes all the amendments or not.

    1. As I understand it, there are arguments that this particular section of the Constitution was “obviously” intended to apply only to sworn Confederates in the wake of the Civil War. (Because it was written then? What about the rest of the Constitution, written back in 1787? What about the 27 amendments written in the years since?)

      We have the words right there, still, and I don’t see anything that limits them to just the post-Civil War period in our history. Of course, I’m not a judge or constitutional scholar or lawyer. But I can read English.

  2. I say nothing short of a conviction blessed by SCOTUS can make the 14th amendment determinative in this case because Trump’s cult-like base still believes in the Big Lie. Biased or not, SCOTUS will be loathe to rule until after the election. The high court’s reputation is already badly tarnished and they won’t want further risk if they can avoid it.

    1. Assuming the issue ever gets to SCOTUS, I can’t imagine it happening before the election. As I understand it, based on the amendment, local officials could refuse to put the obviously (to them) ineligible Trump on their ballots and that would throw each instance into the courts, and all that could easily drag on until after the election. I wonder what would happen if the issue finally gets to the Supreme Court but not until after the election and after Trump has been reelected?

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