The Fourteenth Amendment won’t save us from Donald Trump.
Eminent jurists are promising that it will. They argue that language in the Fourteenth Amendment, adopted after the Civil War, should debar the coup-plotting ex-president from appearing on a ballot for any office ever again. Their learning is undisputed. Their conclusions are another story. The project to disqualify Trump from running for president is misguided and dangerous. It won’t work. If it somehow could work, it would create problems worse even than Americans already face. In an ideal world, Trump’s fellow Republicans would handle this matter by repudiating his crimes and rejecting his candidacy for their presidential nomination. Failing that—and it certainly seems as if that hope is failing—opponents of Trump must dig deep and beat him at the polls one more time. There is no cheat code to win this game.
To understand what the legal experts are talking about, you need to imagine yourself back in the world of 1866, when the amendment was drafted. (It was ratified in July 1868.)
The North had won the Civil War, but its victory was put in jeopardy by the lax policy of President Andrew Johnson. The successor to the assassinated Abraham Lincoln had been pardoning former secessionists. He had been looking the other way as southern white elites terrorized freed slaves away from voting. As things were going, ex-Confederates were poised to regain power not only at the local level, but also inside the U.S. House and Senate. Union-loyal Republicans faced a terrifying prospect: After so much blood had been spilled, the defeated South might reclaim at the ballot box the political sway it had wielded before the Civil War.
Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment was written to prevent that outcome. Anybody who had held federal or state office before 1861, and who had then supported the Confederacy in any way, would be debarred from holding office of any kind, federal or state, civil or military. The power to restore political rights would be removed from the president and awarded to Congress. Congress would have to approve the restoration by a two-thirds vote in each chamber. [Continue reading…]
Arizona Secretary of State Adrian Fontes said Tuesday that his office is figuring out how to handle potential complaints over whether former President Donald Trump should be disqualified from appearing on the 2024 ballot.
The issue centers on the 14th Amendment, which prohibits people who have “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” from holding public office. Former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson raised the theory at last week’s GOP presidential debate that Trump’s conduct on Jan. 6, 2021, might disqualify him on those grounds — a theory that has gained traction among some legal scholars, though others discount the possibility.
Now, the people running state elections are trying to figure out what to do if people bring legal challenges against Trump.
“We have to have a final certification of eligible candidates [for the primary ballot] by Dec. 14 for Arizona’s presidential preference election,” Fontes, a Democrat elected in 2022, told NBC News. “And because this will ultimately end up in court, we are taking this very seriously.” [Continue reading…]