Explained: The 14th Amendment Clause Being Used To Block A Second Donald Trump Presidency – A clause that has been used once in the past 100 years is the key to blocking a second Donald Trump presidency, according to his opponents.
Such an infrequently used clause may show its weakness, but it also emphasizes the unprecedented stigma around the world’s most-known politician. Cowboys for Trump founder and former Otero County, New Mexico, Commissioner Couy Griffin, who entered the Capitol on January 6, was the last individual disqualified from office under Section Three; the last time before that was prominent socialist and House Rep. Victor Berger in 1919.
It’s perhaps no wonder that there’s a lot of confusion regarding Section Three – or the “disqualification clause” as it’s known – and whether it applies to former president Donald Trump.
How Did We Get Here?
The argument to disqualify Trump from public office stems from an academic article published by two conservative scholars in August, who referenced Section Three which disqualifies anyone who has “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” against the United States having taken the oath of office.
Introduced following the Civil War to prevent Confederates from serving in Congress, Section Three has rarely been spoken about – let alone invoked – since its 19th century introduction.
Due to the nature of American democracy, the clause could prevent Trump from standing on the ballot in some states and not others. No state has made a formal disqualification yet, but attempts are ongoing from anti-Trump conservatives in New Hampshire and Arizona.
It’s an ongoing debate. On the one hand, Trump’s involvement in the January 6 Capitol riots has been deemed sufficient for federal prosecutors to lay charges against him. On the other, Trump is innocent until proven guilty, and any decision by the jury which could disqualify him would be deep inside the primary season.
Will Donald Trump Be Disqualified?
Ultimately, a decision by a Secretary of State will undoubtedly be appealed all the way up to the Supreme Court, where conservatives – three of whom are Trump appointees – hold a 6-3 majority.
Analysts are divided over the view. Kim Wehle, a constitutional law scholar at the University of Baltimore who raised the question in a Politico article last year, said it would cause “tremendous civil unrest,” but told NPR’s Morning Edition that there is a “textual commitment in the Constitution” which must be abided by no matter a person’s views on a candidate.
However, in the same article, David Frum, a former speechwriter for former president George W. Bush, described it as “a reckless project” which distracts from convincing others to vote against those they perceive as a “threat to democracy.”
Either way, Section Three of the 14th Amendment adds yet another twist in the unprecedented political career of former president Trump, and any invocation will be a groundbreaking moment in the future of the United States.
Shay Bottomley is a British journalist based in Canada. He has written for the Western Standard, Maidenhead Advertiser, Slough Express, Windsor Express, Berkshire Live and Southend Echo, and has covered notable events including the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.
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