The Constitution bars Trump from holding public office ever again | The Hill


Category:  Christianity

Via:  tig  •  9 months ago  •  1 comments

By:   Donald K. Sherman (The Hill)

The Constitution bars Trump from holding public office ever again | The Hill
Enforcing the Disqualification Clause against an official who violated their oath is an act of patriotism, not partisanship.

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T

by Donald K. Sherman, opinion contributor - 08/17/23 11:30 AM ET
by Donald K. Sherman, opinion contributor - 08/17/23 11:30 AM ET

While some ­on the right portray accountability for the Jan. 6 Capitol riot as just another partisan dispute, two prominent conservative legal scholars have made the case that the Constitution disqualifies former President Trump from public office.

Last week, law professors William Baude of the University of Chicago and Michael Stokes Paulsen of the University of St. Thomas — both members of the conservative Federalist Society — argued in a law review article that Trump is already constitutionally forbidden from serving in public office because of Section Three of the 14th Amendment.

This section, also known as the Disqualification Clause, bars from office any government officer who takes an oath to defend the Constitution and then engages in or aids an insurrection against the United States. Only a two-thirds majority of both houses of Congress can act to remove such disability.

It should not come as a surprise that Trump meets this standard. All three branches of the government have identified the attack on the Capitol as an insurrection, with multiple federal judges, bipartisan majorities in the House and Senate, as well as the bipartisan Jan. 6 House select committee, citing Trump as its central cause.

As Baude and Paulsen note, "Section Three requires no prior criminal-law conviction, for treason or any other defined crime, as a prerequisite for its disqualification to apply." Trump's indictment by special counsel Jack Smith for election-related crimes only further bolsters the case for his constitutional disqualification.

Those federal criminal charges include conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, obstruction of and attempt to obstruct an official proceeding, and conspiracy against rights by attempting to "oppress, threaten or intimidate" people in their free exercise and enjoyment of their right to vote.

Although Trump's role in fomenting the attack on the Capitol has been well documented, Baude and Paulsen argue that the "full legal consequences" of Section Three "have not been appreciated or enforced." As they explain, the Disqualification Clause is "an enforceable part of the Constitution, not limited to the Civil War, and not effectively repealed by nineteenth century amnesty legislation."

The provision is also "self-executing … without the need for additional action by Congress." As the professors note, Section Three "can and should be enforced by every official, state or federal, who judges qualifications."

Last September, three New Mexico residents represented by my organization, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, won the first case in more than 150 years removing an elected official from office based on participation in an insurrection. The court ruled that then-New Mexico County Commissioner Couy Griffin had violated Section Three of the 14th Amendment by recruiting men for battle to join Trump's "wild" effort to overturn the election Jan. 6, normalized violence and breached police barriers as part of the weaponized mob that allowed others to overwhelm law enforcement and storm the Capitol. Griffin's removal marked the first case at the federal or state level concluding that what occurred Jan. 6 was an insurrection.

In Griffin's case, the court found that disqualifying officials under Section Three of the 14th Amendment does not conflict with the First Amendment right to protest. It also rebuffed attempts by Griffin to conflate Jan. 6 with Black Lives Matter protests.

In their article, Baude and Paulsen explain that "to the extent of any conflict with prior constitutional rules, Section Three repeals, supersedes, or simply satisfies them," including "the free speech principles of the First Amendment."

Most importantly, the authors conclude that Section Three covers a "broad range of conduct against the authority of the constitutional order" and "a broad range of former offices, including the presidency." They state explicitly that Section Three "disqualifies former President Donald Trump, and potentially many others, because of their participation in the attempted overthrow of the 2020 presidential election."

Every president, regardless of party, takes an oath to preserve and defend the Constitution of the United States. Enforcing the Disqualification Clause against an official who violated that oath is an act of patriotism, not partisanship. As Baude and Paulsen correctly state, "Officials must enforce the Constitution because it is law … Section Three has legal force already."

The Disqualification Clause has already been used successfully to promote accountability for the insurrection, and, in the coming months, it will be used again to prevent Trump and others from serving in public office.

Donald K. Sherman is executive vice president and chief counsel at Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.

Tags 14th Amendment 2020 election Constitution Couy Griffin Donald Trump insurrection January 6 Capitol attack

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