One More Thing on Section 3 of the 14th Amendment | National Review

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Former President Donald Trump looks on at his first post-presidency campaign rally in Wellington, Ohio, June 26, 2021. (Shannon Stapleton/Reuters)

I couldn’t agree more with Dan’s historical explanation of why Democrats will not be able to disqualify former President Trump under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment. I would merely add to the textual aspect of his post a point I have made before: By a commonsense construction of its terms, Section 3 does not apply to the president. It 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. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability. [Emphasis added.]

The amendment explicitly refers to senators and members of the House, but when it comes to the executive branch, it refers to electors of the president and vice president, not the president and vice president themselves. Plainly, if it had been the purpose of the amendment’s framers to include the president and vice president, they’d have said so — they wouldn’t have left it at electors.

The presidency and the vice presidency are specially elected executive offices. Incumbents of these lofty positions are not mere “officers of the United States,” a term that generally refers to officials appointed by the president. Furthermore, it would make no sense to believe the amendment’s drafters intended the term “officer of the United States” was meant to include the president, after the drafters went to the trouble of specifically invoking the president in providing a disqualification for electors of the president. Again, if they’d meant to include the president, they’d have said so.

It should also be noted that the only sensible reason for impeaching Trump by the time the House voted to do so on January 13, 2021 was to trigger the disqualification remedy for impeachment. There was no need to remove him from office at that point: The expiration of his term was imminent when the House voted to approve the impeachment article, and he was already out of office by the time of his Senate trial. If Trump was not disqualified under the impeachment clause, a remedy that undeniably applied to him, he is not going to be disqualified under the 14th Amendment, which doesn’t.





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About the Author

Tony Beasley
Tony Beasley writes for the Local News, US and the World Section of ANH.