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The Plan to Stop Donald Trump

The 14th Amendment holds that a person who “engaged in insurrection” after taking an oath should not be allowed to run for office again. Does that mean Donald Trump is in trouble?

President of the United States Donald Trump speaking at the 2017 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland. Image from Gage Skidmore.
President of the United States Donald Trump speaking at the 2017 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland. By Gage Skidmore.

Two advocacy groups, The Free Speech For People (FSFP) and Mi Familia Vota Education Fund, have written to officials in multiple states encouraging them to block Donald Trump from running as a presidential candidate on account of having previously cited an insurrection.

The two groups “have written letters to secretaries of state and election officials in California, Colorado, Georgia, Michigan, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, and Pennsylvania, demanding that they “carry out their responsibility” by barring Trump from being on next year’s ballot for allegedly violating the 14th Amendment due to his actions around the January 6 attack,” Newsweek reported.

Donald Trump and January 6th

The letter refers to Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, which holds that a person who “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” after taking a congressional oath should not be allowed to run for office again. The question, however, is whether Trump engaged in insurrection or rebellion hence triggering the 14th Amendment ban on seeking reelection. As no serious effort exists to leverage the 14th Amendment into banning a Trump reelection campaign, one can assume that the common sentiment is that Trump did not actually engage in insurrection or rebellion.

And I think that’s right. As despicable as January 6th was, the events at the Capitol did not bear resemblance to an organized coup or insurrection attempt. I think of January 6th in terms of a political protest that turned ugly and got out of hand rather than some coordinated attempt to unseat the rule of law. And regardless, even if January 6th was some coordinated coup or insurrection and not just some zealous riot, that doesn’t mean Trump himself played a role, legally speaking, in the action or the planning. Of course DOJ investigator Jack Smith might feel differently and could bring charges to Trump in relation to his actions on January 6th and then we’ve got a whole new ballgame where the argument in the letters starts to hold some water. But what I’m saying is that, at this very moment, the FSFP and Mi Familia Vota Education Fund letters don’t seem super imposing.

Letters don’t mean much in the big picture

The letters, which come from organizations the average American has never heard of, are the least of Trump’s concerns. For example, Trump was recently indicted on 37 federal charges relating to his handling of classified documents. Trump was also indicted in Manhattan on charges relating to an alleged hush money payment to adult actress Stormy Daniels. And charges could be coming in relation to January 6th.

“The evidence is overwhelming that Donald Trump incited and mobilized the insurrection on January 6, 2021 at our nation’s Capitol,” Alexandra Flores-Quilty, campaign director for FSFP, said in a statement. “The U.S. Constitution is clear that anyone who takes an oath of office and then engages in insurrection is forever barred from holding public office again. Election officials must carry out their duty, follow this constitutional mandate, and bar Trump from the ballot.”

Trump has been facing similar criticisms, and similar calls for his banishment for years. So far, nothing has stuck. Perhaps I’ve been conditioned, and should be more open-minded, but I have a difficult time seeing Trump banned from the upcoming election on a 14th Amendment violation.

Harrison Kass is the Senior Editor and opinion writer at 19FortyFive. An attorney, pilot, guitarist, and minor pro hockey player, Harrison joined the US Air Force as a Pilot Trainee but was medically discharged. Harrison holds a BA from Lake Forest College, a JD from the University of Oregon, and an MA from New York University. Harrison listens to Dokken.

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Written By

Harrison Kass is a Senior Defense Editor at 19FortyFive. An attorney, pilot, guitarist, and minor pro hockey player, he joined the US Air Force as a Pilot Trainee but was medically discharged. Harrison has degrees from Lake Forest College, the University of Oregon School of Law, and New York University’s Graduate School of Arts & Sciences. He lives in Oregon and regularly listens to Dokken.