Could the 14th Amendment Keep Trump and Republicans From Running For Office?

Could the 14th Amendment Keep Trump and Republicans From Running For Office?

( – In the wake of the Civil War, the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution was ratified to prevent former Confederate supporters from running for federal office. Still, in 1872, Congress passed the Amnesty Act that removed the disqualification from Confederates and their sympathizers. When the 14th Amendment was passed, Congress was dealing with the issues of its day. However, the Constitutional amendment is still active and present. Today, there are many more questions than answers to how it might relate to the January 6, 2021, riot on Capitol Hill.

Since that terrible day, Democrats have been trying to weaponize the events against Republicans. They allege that Republicans are insurrectionists. Yet, there is no clear evidence that’s the case other than perhaps one extreme fringe group. Nonetheless, in North Carolina, Democrats are trying to stop Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-NC) from running for re-election based on the 14th Amendment. If they succeed, and that’s highly questionable, could it impact former President Donald Trump?

14th Amendment Seldom Used for a Good Reason

The disqualification clause of the 14th Amendment covers any person who took an oath to uphold the US Constitution and either engages in an insurrection or rebellion against the United States or gives aid or comfort to the enemies of the United States. So, here is the question, was January 6 an insurrection or a riot?

Democrats labeled January 6 as an insurrection for over a year, but was it? Constitutional law professor Jonathan Turley argues it was not an insurrection. Instead, it was a day of reckless rhetoric that became a full riot. Congressional leaders rejected the national guard’s presence, and Turley says the fault lies with the rioters. Clarifying further, Turley also noted that those participating in the riot were not insurgents or terrorists – they were faithless. America didn’t face a revolution, but a crisis of faithlessness.

The insurrection label is not about law right now, it’s about politics. Yet, insurrection is a legal term. Unless it is obvious, it’s hard to invoke an insurrection after the fact. The Constitution allows Congress to call the militia (i.e., the National Guard) to suppress an insurrection. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) rejected the Guard’s presence before and during the riot.

Now, here’s the fun part. Congress can pass legislation to declare an act of civil disobedience an insurrection under the 14th Amendment, Section 5. Yet, Congress has not done so. Why is that? Because not every Democrat agrees it was a legally defined insurrection, and no Republicans will support such a measure. Additionally, the Supreme Court has ruled that it’s up to the president to determine if a civil disturbance rises to the level of an insurrection to suppress it absent a specific law by Congress.

So, Congress has said in law there was an insurrection, but no juries have convicted an elected official with a crime. What’s this really about?

Insurrection Is a Political Issue, Not a Legal One

Constitutional scholar Frank O. Bowman says it would be difficult to prove in court that January 6 was an insurrection. Legal experts say that preventing Cawthorn from running for reelection may be nearly impossible. All Cawthorn did was speak at Trump’s rally on January 6, but did not call for any specific actions by protestors. Is that enough to call him an insurrectionist or a supporter of an insurrection?

Some argue the case could be a test to prevent former President Donald Trump from running for President in 2024. Yet, Trump may argue it wasn’t an insurrection, or say that his role with leading a rally that day wasn’t an engagement of an insurrection, or that the presidency is covered by Section 3 of the 14th Amendment.

A January CBS News poll said Americans disagree with Democrats that January 6 was an insurrection. The poll said that 76% believe it was a protest that went too far. That includes a large number of Democratic voters.

In the end, the insurrection label is a feeble attempt by Democrats to hold on to power. They are banking on it being a drummed-up issue that voters will respond to in November. Once again, it’s a Democratic attempt to cover up their legislative failures in 2021.

Good luck. It’s hard to imagine that voters are that naive.

Don Purdum, Independent Political Analyst

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