Surely many bigger history nerds and Constitution nerds than me (and there must be some) have stumbled on this before, but it actually seems somewhat possible that the 14th Amendment precludes Donald Trump from serving another term as president.
During my weekend reading, I stumbled across some pieces about this seldom mentioned constitutional provision. (Here’s one.) They note that in the 14th Amendment, adopted in the immediate aftermath of the Civil War and so full of great provisions on which modern American history has relied, Section 3 says that:
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.
To me, this raises questions.
Did Donald John Trump Sr., the immediate ex-president, take an oath at his 2017 swearing-in to that office, solemnly swearing “to faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States”, and to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States?”
I believe he did, and it’s on tape.
Did Donald John Trump, four years later, summon to the capital city a mob of his supporters, and did he urge them to go to the Capitol where the process of certifying the election of his successor was to occur?
Did Trump, on January 6, 2021, while still holding the office of president but obliged by law to give it up two weeks later to Joe Biden, having previously taken an oath to uphold the Constitution but, because he was disinclined to cooperate in the peaceful transfer of power to his elected successor, commit acts that any but the most brainwashed of his followers would agree were part of an effort to engage in insurrection or rebellion against the Constitution of the United States by preventing that transfer of power to the rightful winner of the 2020 election, namely Joe Biden?
Did Trump summon a mob and urge them to go to the U.S. Capitol building, falsely telling them that he would go with them? And did he urge them to forcibly prevent the certification of the election he had lost so he could remain president?
Did Trump, by his words and deeds that day, commit insurrectionist and/or rebellious actions that should trigger the 14th Amendment (Section 3) provision precluding him from ever again holding any office under the United States?
In my view, Donald J. Trump Sr. did so preclude himself.
There is a loophole. The 14th Amendment provides that “Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.”
But, pending such a two-thirds majority of both Houses, which strikes me as unlikely to occur, could D.J. Trump Sr., as the conventional wisdom suggests he is wont to do in 2024, run for president and, if he won, legally, constitutionally, take the office?
Or, by that time, will anyone care what the Constitution says?