The 14th Amendment and Removing Donald J. Trump

Section 3 of the 14th Amendment states:

No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice-President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any state, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof.

Some scholars and historians point to Section 3 as a more expedient and politically possible alternative to the 25th Amendment or formal impeachment and conviction. Donald J. Trump and his enablers have put the American people in danger. It is important to act quickly. Section 3 is an important tool that should be on the table.

Still, as historian Eric Foner noted in a January 12, 2021 article in the Washington Post, after the Civil War and ratification of the 14th Amendment, the 1872 Amnesty Act reversed Section 3’s intent, making it possible for former Confederates to hold office and take back power in the former rebel states. Section 3 ended up being useless for stopping the implementation of Jim Crow and reestablishing the status quo of white supremacy and government controlled by men that had ruled before the war. The result brought economic stagnation, racial discrimination, and violence to the South for generations. The aspiration for a more equitable society was squashed again for the entire country.

Unfortunately, the United States is built on a status quo grounded in white supremacy. What groups qualified as “white” changed over time, but the foundational idea of racial hierarchy is fundamental. Trumpsterism rests on this foundation. The evidence is in the history that political compromise after compromise over slavery infected every generation from the Declaration of Independence to the Kansas-Nebraska Act. Failed compromises and the inability to deal with white supremacy paved the road to the Civil War. The war ended legal slavery, but not white supremacy. In 1954, Brown vs. Board of Education decision and subsequent federal laws such as the Voting Rights Act and  Civil Rights Act helped strengthen aspirations for equality, but Supreme Count decisions since have again weakened the path to that ideal, eg: Shelby County, AL vs. Holder, and  Citizens United, among others.

Even with a resolution based on Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, Donald J. Trump, fellow seditionists must be tried and convicted under the law.

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