Jill Habig’s amicus brief gives the Supreme Court’s originalists a taste of their own medicine

Jill Habig’s amicus brief gives the Supreme Court’s originalists a taste of their own medicine

The Guardian reports:

When Jill Habig had an office down the hall from Kamala Harris in California, Barack Obama was US president, abortion was a constitutional right and January 6 was just another date on the calendar. A lot has happened since then.

On Thursday Habig, now president of the non-profit Public Rights Project (PRP), hopes her arguments will persuade the supreme court that Donald Trump is an insurrectionist who should be disqualified from the 2024 presidential election.

Habig has filed an amicus brief on behalf of historians contending that section 3 of the 14th amendment to the constitution, which bars people who “engaged in insurrection” from holding public office, applies to Trump’s role in the January 6, 2021 attack on the US Capitol.

The brief gives the supreme court’s originalists, who believe the constitution should be interpreted as it would have been in the era it was written, a taste of their own medicine. Conservative justices Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett are self-declared originalists while Samuel Alito has described himself as a “practical originalist”.

“Our goal was to bring an originalist historical perspective to the supreme court as it considered the meaning of section 3 of the 14th amendment,” Habig, a former special counsel to then California attorney general Harris, says by phone from Oakland. “The point we make with our historian colleagues is that the history of section 3 is actually very clear. It demonstrates that section 3 was intended to automatically disqualify insurrectionists.”

The amicus brief, led by historians Jill Lepore of Harvard and David Blight of Yale, cites debates from the time in which senators made clear that their view that the provision that would not only apply for former Confederates but to the leaders of rebellions yet to come. [Continue reading…]

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