Influential Democratic lawmakers have suggested in recent days that Congress should leverage the U.S. Constitution to prevent now-former President Donald Trump from ever holding office again.
What are the details?
Democrats eager to hold Trump “accountable” for the deadly violence at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 are exploring avenues of punishment outside of impeachment.
One such measure is a provision in Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, which reads:
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.
The 14th Amendment, one of the so-called “Reconstruction Amendments,” was ratified in 1868, and is most well-known for its first section, which guarantees “due process of law” and “equal protection of the laws.”
But, according to the Washington Post, the third section was intended “to exclude former Confederates from holding federal and state office.”
What are Democrats saying?
Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) said he is “quite confident” that Congress could use the 14th Amendment against Trump.
“It’s an idea that’s out there that I think people are contemplating in the accountability space,” Kaine said, according to The Hill. “I just want us to choose a path that maximizes focus on the Biden-Harris agenda.”
Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) agreed that enacting the constitutional provision against Trump was “certainly a possibility.”
“All of these are questions of first impression, in terms of constitutionality,” Murphy told The Hill. “I certainly think there is a 14th Amendment avenue separate and aside from impeachment.”
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) further added, “The remedies of the 14th Amendment certainly may be appropriate for someone who incites an insurrection as Donald Trump did.”
Could Democrats actually do it?
Whether or not the 14th Amendment could be used as a mechanism to prohibit Trump from ever holding office again is a complicated matter of constitutional law that would likely require years to answer.
Still, Democrats are intent on holding Trump accountable in some manner.
Despite Trump no longer being president, the Senate is preparing to conduct his second impeachment trial after the House voted earlier this month to impeach him for “incitement of insurrection.”
The Senate trial is scheduled to begin on Feb. 8.