The multiple indictments against former President Donald Trump for his attempts to overturn the 2020 election, coupled with a new article by prominent conservative legal scholars, have ignited a debate among legal experts. This debate centers on whether Trump could be disqualified from running for the presidency again under the 14th Amendment. This discussion is expected to play out in court as the 2024 election approaches.
The 14th Amendment’s Section 3, a post-Civil War provision, stipulates that individuals who have previously taken an oath of office and engaged in insurrection, rebellion, or provided aid to enemies of the United States cannot hold any state or federal office.
Conservative legal scholars William Baude and Michael Stokes Paulson argue that Trump’s involvement in the January 6, 2021, rebellion disqualifies him under this amendment. They contend that this section is still valid and can be utilized by state officials to bar Trump from the ballot without requiring additional legislation or court rulings.
This perspective has been supported by other legal experts, including Northwestern University law professor Steven Calabrisi and Harvard University law professor Laurence Tribe. They claim that Trump’s actions meet the criteria for disqualification due to his role in the insurrection and his subsequent statements.
On the contrary, Stanford Law professor Michael McConnell and Harvard University law professor Noah Feldman oppose the 14th Amendment strategy. McConnell believes that Trump’s actions, while serious, might not meet the threshold of an insurrection. Feldman notes that the implementation of Section 3 might necessitate Congressional legislation, contrary to the arguments made by Baude and Paulson.
Groups such as Free Speech for People and Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington have taken steps to challenge Trump’s candidacy through lawsuits and requests for disqualification. The issue is likely to escalate to the Supreme Court, as experts believe it’s a complex and constitutional matter.
Notably, the application of the 14th Amendment in this context follows previous attempts to use it in the 2022 midterms to disqualify candidates who were linked to the events of January 6.