Conservative Legal Scholars Argue Trump Is Disqualified for Office Under 14th Amendment

Anyone who takes an oath of office and then engages in insurrection is barred from holding public office.

Conservative legal scholars, William Baude of the University of Chicago and Michael Stokes Paulsen of the University of St. Thomas, contend that, under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, former President Donald Trump is disqualified to hold office again.

Also known as the Insurrectionist Disqualification Clause, by swearing an oath to uphold the Constitution and subsequently inciting and facilitating the violent January 6th attack on the Capitol, Trump is ineligible to run for office again.

According to the scholars, the clause, “covers a broad range of former offices, including the presidency. And in particular, it disqualifies former President Donald Trump, and potentially many others, because of their participation in the attempted overthrow of the 2020 presidential election.”

Trump is currently facing a number of felony charges stemming from his role in attempting to overturn the 2020 presidential election and inciting the January 6, 2021 insurrection, including conspiracy to defraud the United States and “conspiracy against the right to vote and to have one’s vote counted.

Special Counsel Jack Smith, who laid out the charges in a 45-page indictment, has proposed a January 2, 2024 trial date.

On August 1, 2023 Smith stated, “Today an indictment was unsealed charging Donald J. Trump with conspiring to defraud the United States, conspiring to disenfranchise voters and conspiring and attempting to obstruct an official proceeding…I encourage everyone to read it in full. The attack on our nation’s Capitol on January 6, 2021 was an unprecedented assault on the seat of American democracy.”

But legal experts and historians have argued that Trump is disqualified for office under Section 3 whether or not he is convicted.

The clause states that “no person shall be a senator or representative in Congress, or elector of president and vice president, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any state, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any state legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any state, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof.”

Free Speech for People is one of several advocacy groups preparing to take legal action if Trump is not disqualified.

“While the US Justice Department, along with state and local authorities, must hold Donald Trump accountable for all crimes that he has committed, secretaries of state and chief election officials across the country must carry out their responsibility to follow the mandate of the Constitution and the Insurrectionist Disqualification Clause and bar Trump from any future ballot,” said John Bonifaz, president of Free Speech For People.

“Criminal prosecutions will establish Trump’s liability under the law. But the enforcement of Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment against Trump will ensure that our republic is protected and that this insurrectionist-in-chief is forever disqualified from holding any future public office.”

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