Unwilling to let Donald Trump off the hook with the help of the Republican party, and allow him to run for office again, critics of the ex-president sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) this week providing step by step instructions on how to use the 14th Amendment to make sure it happens.
Reporting for The Nation, columnist John Nichols explained that the 14th Amendment is specifically designed to deal with situations like Trump’s according to historian Eric Foner.
“This can be invoked against anyone who has ever taken an oath to support the Constitution, including the president,” Foner stated. “It’s much simpler than impeachment. It is not a judicial proceeding. It’s a political proceeding. It doesn’t involve lawyers or trials. It is simply about qualification for office. You could have one afternoon of debate and a vote.”
The beauty of it, he notes, is that it won’t involve a trial and two-thirds of the highly polarized Senate to make it happen.
In the letter to Schumer from groups including Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, Common Cause, Project on Government Oversight, Public Citizen, and Protect Democracy they maintain, “Impeachment, conviction, and disqualification might be considered the primary method for holding the former President to account, and prohibiting his return to public office. But it is not the only tool that the Constitution provides to address grave threats of this nature to the Republic. Section Three is another. Drafters of this provision were concerned that former Confederate leaders would use state and federal positions to corrode and subvert the fragile constitutional order at a time when the nation was just emerging from the Civil War.”
With that in mind, they laid out a path for Democrats to follow, which begins with using the courts to pave the way.
“Pass legislation that (a) includes findings and expresses its view that Section Three applies to former President Trump and (b) establishes a formal enforcement mechanism for federal courts to determine whether Section Three applies to former President Trump (i.e., judicial review) and any other office-holder who engaged in the January 6th insurrection; or, they wrote, “Pass a resolution with factual findings and expressing its view that Section Three applies to former President Trump. Though a resolution would not have the force of law, it would cast a cloud over any future candidacy by Trump and provide grounds for further actions challenging a future candidacy.”
According to the authors of the letter, that so many Republicans in the House and Senate approved of the articles of impeachment, makes the possibility of getting the legislation moving entirely possible.
“In fact, Senators on both sides of the aisle (including 13 Republicans who voted to acquit) roundly condemned the behavior itself for which the former president was on trial—behavior that, as a legal matter, is well within the scope of Section Three,” they wrote.
According to Nichols, Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD), has already addressed invoking Section Three to disqualify Trump, telling lawmakers, “Donald Trump is right in, you know, the bullseye middle of that group,” in reference to the intent of the drafters of the 14th Amendment punish those who have “given aid or comfort to” insurrection from serving in positions of power.
The letter to Schumer concluded that the congressional action needs to be taken to not only stop the former president but also serve notice to anyone who might follow in his footsteps.
“The former president may or may not instigate further insurrection or rebellion; but others, emboldened in the absence of consequence, surely will. Section Three is meant to ensure that any future presidents or would-be office-holders are dissuaded from the notion that the U.S. will permit violent insurrections to contest the will of the people,” they concluded.
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