The Constitutional Clause Regarding Insurrection Puts Trump’s Political Aspirations in Jeopardy

by Chloe Baker
Trump constitutional challenge

The recent bid of ex-President Donald Trump to reclaim the presidency is now imperiled by a provision in the U.S. Constitution, adopted over a century and a half ago.

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court of Colorado invoked Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, a rare occurrence, to exclude Trump from the state’s electoral process. This clause disqualifies individuals from office who have pledged to uphold the Constitution but then partook in an insurrection against it. This unprecedented application of the provision to a presidential candidate has shifted the final decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Should the U.S. Supreme Court uphold this decision, which many legal experts view as improbable, it would signify the termination of Trump’s campaign. Such a ruling would be nationally binding, not just confined to Colorado, potentially ushering in a new era of political maneuvering where similar judicial decisions could be sought to disqualify political adversaries.

This clause has also caught the attention of some conservatives contemplating its application to Vice President Kamala Harris, citing her fundraising for individuals arrested during the unrest following George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis, labeling it as an act of insurrection.

Exploring the Ramifications of the 14th Amendment’s Application in Trump’s Case:

The Immediate Impact of the Colorado Ruling:

Presently, the ruling’s real-world impact is minimal. The Colorado Supreme Court, anticipating a likely review by the U.S. Supreme Court, has deferred its order until January 4 or until a Supreme Court decision is made. While currently specific to Colorado, this ruling could inspire other states to similarly exclude Trump from ballots. However, no unilateral actions by state election officials have been reported, and prior lawsuits in this regard have been unsuccessful until this Colorado case.

The U.S. Supreme Court has not previously interpreted Section 3, leaving various potential outcomes for their ruling. Legal scholar Rick Hasen emphasizes the necessity of a clear judicial verdict for U.S. political stability and voter clarity regarding candidate eligibility.

Predicting the U.S. Supreme Court’s Decision:

Forecasting the Supreme Court’s decision is speculative, especially given the novel legal territory and the court’s composition, including three Trump-appointed justices. While some conservative legal figures advocate for a strict adherence to the Constitution’s text, potentially disqualifying Trump, the court’s historical reluctance to restrict voter choice complicates predictions.

Understanding Section 3 of the 14th Amendment:

Section 3, aimed initially at barring former Confederates from office, prohibits anyone who has sworn to support the Constitution and then engaged in insurrection from holding various governmental positions. Though widely used post-Civil War, its application dwindled after 1872 amnesty acts, with limited 20th-century usage.

Trump’s Legal Counterarguments:

Trump’s defense challenges his disqualification on several grounds, including the definition of “officer under the United States,” the characterization of the January 6 events, and the jurisdiction of state courts in defining an insurrection. Trump’s team also posits that Congress, not the courts, should decide on such disqualifications.

The Colorado Justices’ Perspectives:

The Colorado Supreme Court majority upheld its jurisdiction in this matter, countering Trump’s arguments by emphasizing the broad applicability of Section 3. However, a dissenting opinion by Justice Carlos Samour highlighted procedural concerns and the need for thorough due process before disqualifying a candidate from office.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Trump constitutional challenge

What is the significance of the Colorado Supreme Court’s ruling against Donald Trump?

The Colorado Supreme Court’s decision to bar former President Donald Trump from the state’s ballot under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment is significant as it marks the first time in history this constitutional provision has been used to challenge a presidential candidate’s eligibility. The ruling could have far-reaching implications if upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court, potentially setting a precedent for future disqualifications of candidates under similar circumstances.

How might the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision impact Trump’s presidential campaign?

If the U.S. Supreme Court upholds the Colorado Supreme Court’s ruling, it would effectively end Donald Trump’s campaign for the presidency. The decision would be applicable nationwide, not just in Colorado, and could establish a judicial precedent for using Section 3 of the 14th Amendment to disqualify political candidates who are deemed to have engaged in insurrection.

What is Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, and why is it relevant to Trump’s case?

Section 3 of the 14th Amendment was originally written to prevent former Confederates from holding public office and states that any person who has taken an oath to support the U.S. Constitution and subsequently engages in insurrection or rebellion is disqualified from public office. This provision is being applied to Trump’s case due to allegations that his actions in relation to the January 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol constitute an insurrection against the Constitution.

What are the legal arguments against disqualifying Trump under the 14th Amendment?

The legal arguments against disqualifying Trump include questioning whether the president is considered an “officer under the United States” as per the amendment’s language, debating the characterization of the January 6 events as an insurrection, and challenging the jurisdiction of state courts in determining whether an act qualifies as insurrection. Trump’s lawyers also argue that the decision to disqualify a candidate on these grounds is a political question that should be decided by Congress, not the judiciary.

How have courts previously handled similar cases involving Section 3 of the 14th Amendment?

Courts have historically been hesitant to limit voters’ choices and have often considered such disputes as “political questions” better settled by elected lawmakers rather than judges. This has led to many lawsuits seeking to apply Section 3 of the 14th Amendment failing until the recent Colorado case. In some instances, courts have avoided the central question, as seen in Minnesota and Michigan, where Trump was allowed on ballots due to state party decisions, and in New Hampshire, where a lawsuit was dismissed as “non-justiciable.”

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GrammarNazi December 25, 2023 - 9:00 am

some typos, but great info. Courts and cases get tricky.

EagleEye December 25, 2023 - 2:55 pm

Can’t wait to see how the U.S. Supreme Court handles this one!

PoliticalJunkie December 25, 2023 - 3:16 pm

fascinating history on the 14th amendment, who knew?

SeriousMind December 25, 2023 - 7:08 pm

important stuff, legal wrangling, could affect the whole campaign!

PoliSciMajor December 25, 2023 - 7:13 pm

This could set a precedent, watch out for future elections!

JohnDoe December 25, 2023 - 10:33 pm

this is a real game changer if the US supreme court goes with it! a lot of legal battles ahead, let’s see what happens

CuriousCat December 26, 2023 - 1:19 am

So, is Trump really out of the race? Big if true!


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