Use Of 14th Amendment To Ban Trump From Presidency Under Consideration

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Certain, concerned observers have been mulling over the possibility of using the provisions of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in order to keep former President Donald Trump from becoming the president again, a new report explains. That amendment bans those who “have engaged in insurrection or rebellion” from holding offices including the presidency, and Trump’s role in the events of January 6 certainly seems to fit the bill of engaging in an insurrection. That’s what Trump was impeached over in the immediate aftermath of the violence — incitement of insurrection — and that’s what 57 Senators voted to convict Trump of having perpetrated.

Questions include whether Congress would need to take additional steps for the provisions of the 14th Amendment to be legally enforceable against Trump and, if so, what exact form those steps would need to take. Harvard Law Professor Laurence Tribe commented as follows:

‘If anything, the idea has waxed and waned… I hear it being raised with considerable frequency these days both by media commentators and by members of Congress and their staffs, some of whom have sought my advice on how to implement Section 3 [of the 14th Amendment].’

Congresspeople whose offices have been in touch with Tribe include Reps. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), and Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.). Schultz said that she continues “to explore all legal paths to ensure that the people who tried to subvert our democracy are not in charge of it.” Raskin, meanwhile, is in a particularly potent position to oversee the implementation of such a thing — he is one of the members of the House committee investigating the Capitol riot. Nadler is the chairperson of the House Judiciary Committee, which was closely involved in the first round of impeachment proceedings against Trump, centering on allegations of abuse of power.

Congress might be able to conclude with a simple majority vote in both chambers that Trump engaged in insurrection, or they could need to transfer the matter of making such a formal conclusion to a neutral fact-finding body of some sort or a federal court, which is what Tribe concluded would be legally required.

Meanwhile, citing the 14th Amendment’s provisions, an advocacy group called Free Speech For People has called for state officials to keep Trump’s name off their states’ ballots should he run again, which he hasn’t formally confirmed he’ll be doing. In one letter to Georgia’s highest-ranking elections official, which would presumably by Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R), the group insisted that “[just] as states are permitted (if not required) to exclude from the presidential ballot a candidate who is not a natural born citizen, who is underage, or who has previously been elected twice as president, so too states should exclude from the ballot a candidate, such as Mr. Trump, who previously swore to support the Constitution, but then engaged in insurrection.” That organization’s president, John Bonifaz, said that they intend to bring litigation over the issue of Trump’s presence on presidential election ballots in the event that his name is included (which obviously seems all-but-certain in the scenario that he runs again).