Two prominent Democrats have endorsed the theory that former President Donald Trump could be disqualified from running for office under the 14th Amendment. As reported by Axios, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) have backed the idea that the 14th Amendment could block Trump from appearing on the 2024 ballot.
The argument hinges on Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, which stipulates that anyone who has “engaged in insurrection” cannot hold elected office. This interpretation of the amendment has been further supported by Free Speech For People, a Democratic-aligned group that sent letters last week to secretaries of state in key states for the 2024 election claiming Trump should be removed from the ballot.
Schiff stated on MSNBC’s “Inside with Jen Psaki” that this disqualification “fits Donald Trump to a T.” He elaborated, “If you engage in acts of insurrection or rebellion against the government, or you give aid and comfort to those who do, you are disqualified from running. It doesn’t require that you be convicted of insurrection. It just requires that you have engaged in these acts.”
Senator Kaine echoed these sentiments in an ABC News interview, stating there is “a powerful argument to be made” for disqualification. He emphasized the significance of the attack on the Capitol, describing it as an attempt to disrupt the peaceful transfer of power as laid out in the Constitution. He also acknowledged that the matter would likely be resolved in court.
However, this interpretation of the 14th Amendment has not been without criticism. Jonathan Turley, a law professor at George Washington University, called it “the single most dangerous constitutional theory I have seen pop up in decades” during a Fox News segment. Meanwhile, Hans von Spakovsky, Election Law Reform Initiative manager and senior legal fellow for The Heritage Foundation, told the Daily Caller News Foundation that Section 3 of the amendment is no longer in effect due to two amnesty acts passed in 1872 and 1898.
Furthermore, critics argue that Trump has never been convicted of “insurrection or rebellion” by any court or Congress, rendering attempts to disqualify him unconstitutional. William A. Jacobson, a Cornell Law School professor, warned that allowing state officials to determine what constitutes insurrection could “wreak havoc on our constitutional presidential electoral system.”