A new paper authored by two conservative law professors, William Baude and Michael Stokes Paulsen, argues that former President Donald Trump should be disqualified from future presidential service under Section Three of the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution.
This amendment contains a clause that, according to their interpretation, prevents any former elected official who engages in insurrection or rebellion from holding office in the future. Given the accusations that Mr. Trump faced, including his alleged role in facilitating an attempt to overturn the 2020 presidential election, which culminated in the storming of the US Capitol by his supporters on January 6, 2021, his actions appear to fit the criteria of insurrection.
While the self-coup, an attempt to interfere with government branches to retain or expand power, ultimately failed, Mr. Trump is now running for the White House again and currently leading the race for the Republican nomination.
According to Mr. Baude and Mr. Paulson, The authors contend that Section Three is “self-executing,” meaning it can and should be enforced by any official, whether state or federal, responsible for assessing qualifications. The 14th Amendment ratified in 1868 after the Civil War, grants birthright citizenship and was a direct response to Confederate succession from the United States.
Section Three has seen limited enforcement due to various factors, including an 1872 act granting amnesty to some former Confederates. The process for enforcing Section Three is not explicitly defined in the Amendment. It remains unclear whether Congress needs to act or if citizens or organizations must bring legal challenges to remove Mr. Trump’s name from presidential ballots.
A recent precedent involves the lifetime ban from public office imposed on former Otero County, New Mexico Commissioner Couy Griffin for his role in leading the Cowboys for Trump group during the Capitol riot.
While the Supreme Court has not weighed in on Section Three enforcement, it could become a point of contention if it impacts Trump’s political prospects, potentially leading to a change in the legal landscape.