Thor Benson: There might be a legitimate constitutional argument here, but what do you say to people who say it’s anti-democratic?
Noah Bookbinder: There’s a certain irony in the argument that it’s anti-democratic to take somebody off the ballot — that everybody should be able to vote for the candidate of their choice. What happened after the 2020 election, and particularly on January 6, was an effort to overturn the results of an election, to disregard the votes of millions of Americans. There’s nothing more anti-democratic than that.
In fact, it seems counterintuitive to say it’s not fair to not let Donald Trump be on the ballot — that he should be defeated at the ballot box — because of course he was defeated and refused to accept it, and it led to a violent insurrection. There’s no particular reason to assume it’d go differently next time.
Thor Benson: What about the argument that trying to disqualify Trump could end up being a political gift to him?
Noah Bookbinder: It’s important to remember that the Constitution is not optional. These aren’t rules to put into place if you feel like it or it’s politically helpful. This is the law of the land — just like how the Constitution says you have to be 35 to be president. If you have a 23-year-old running for president, you don’t think about whether it’s politically helpful or not to disqualify that person.
It’s the same thing. I’d even go a little bit further to say that that this provision was meant exactly for this kind of moment. If you don’t enforce it, if you don’t use it now, my concern is that it’s going to become a dead letter. This protection for our democratic system that these really prescient and important leaders thought to put in place more than 150 years ago is going to drop away, and we’re not going to have it going forward. That’s not something we want. [Continue reading…]