As a bipartisan effort to prevent former President Donald Trump, the current leading 2024 GOP candidate, from running again for the White House using a provision of the Constitution gains strength, the nation’s highest court may need to step in and settle the matter.
Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, which was ratified in 1868 following America’s divisive Civil War, states that any political leaders who have violated their oaths of office by engaging in insurrection or rebellion against the United States are prohibited from holding federal office. This clause was primarily aimed at those involved with or supporting the Confederacy.
In an effort to bring healing and reconciliation to the nation, Congress passed two general amnesties for former Confederates in 1872 and 1898, with the latter amnesty declaring that any disability set forth by Section 3 had been removed. However, some legal professors and experts do not agree with this conclusion, as reported by the Los Angeles Times.
“Despite its long slumber, Section 3 … is alive and in force,” and it may play a major role in next year’s election, say law professors William Baude of the University of Chicago and Michael Stokes Paulsen of the University of St. Thomas, both of whom are considered to be rock-solid conservatives.
The Times noted:
In a 126-page law review posted last month, they put a new focus on the Constitution’s response to the nation’s greatest insurrection and find significantly higher odds that the Supreme Court will be confronted with the claim that former President Trump, the Republican front-runner in polls for 2024, is legally disqualified from holding office.
As constitutional originalists, Baude and Paulsen believe the document’s terms should be interpreted in line with how they were understood at the time of their adoption. They say the word “insurrection” was understood to refer broadly to the concerted use of force or pressure to obstruct or overthrow the authority of the government.
“It sweeps in a broad range of conduct attacking the authority of the United States,” they wrote.
They assert that the authority for implementing the disqualification clause lies not with Congress or the Justice Department, but rather with numerous state, county, and federal officials who are qualified to evaluate a candidate’s eligibility for office and determine if their name should appear on the ballot according to the Times.
“Taking Section 3 seriously means that its constitutional disqualifications from future state and federal office holding extend to participants in the attempted overturning of the presidential election of 2020, including former President Donald Trump and others,” Baude and Paulsen argued further.
Their stance could include denying any support for those accused or convicted of taking part in the incident at the U.S. Capitol Building on January 6, 2021. While some have characterized this event as an “insurrection,” others have referred to it simply as a riot, similar to those that occurred throughout the summer of 2020 following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis; including one where uniformed Secret Service and other federal officers were targeted outside of the White House while President Trump was still in office.
The United States Supreme Court is set to consider the case of John Castro v. Donald Trump on September 29th, with a final decision expected by October 9th.
The matter centers around whether or not President Trump should be disqualified from holding any future federal office in accordance with the Constitution.
Professor Emeritus Alan Dershowitz of Harvard Law School pointed out that there is no formal mechanism in place to determine if the president was involved in an insurrection, as stated in a recent newsletter by 1945.