Former U.S. Secretary of Labor and professor at Berkeley, Robert Reich, claims that Donald Trump committed treason, and thus can be barred from running for president in 2024. Reich argues that Section 3 of the 14th Amendment prohibits anyone who has held public office and has engaged in insurrection against the United States from ever serving in public office again.
Reich believes that this applies to Trump and that it should be enforced to prevent him from running again.
Understanding the 14th Amendment
The 14th Amendment is one of the Reconstruction Amendments to the United States Constitution that was adopted in 1868. The amendment deals with citizenship rights and equal protection of the laws. It also contains Section 3, which is known as the Disqualification Clause. The Disqualification Clause states that anyone who has taken an oath to support the Constitution of the United States and has engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof, cannot hold any office under the United States or any state.
Reich argues that Trump’s role in the events of January 6th, 2021, where supporters of Trump stormed the Capitol Building, constitutes insurrection against the United States. He believes that this means Trump should be barred from running for president in 2024 under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment.
However, the Disqualification Clause has been used infrequently since its adoption. It was primarily created to prevent former Confederate leaders from holding public office after the American Civil War. In modern times, the clause has only been used a handful of times, and never in the context of a former president seeking to run for office again.
Does Reich’s Argument Hold Water?
It is unlikely that Reich’s argument would hold up in court. While the Disqualification Clause is a part of the U.S. Constitution, the interpretation of the clause has been limited. The clause’s language is also broad, which makes it challenging to determine what actions could be considered insurrection or rebellion.
Furthermore, to bar Trump from running for president, he would need to be convicted of insurrection or rebellion, which he has not been. While the events of January 6th, 2021, were undoubtedly a national tragedy, they have not been legally treated as an insurrection. Those charged for their role in the attack have largely faced trespass and other less serious charges, rather than insurrection or treason.
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