Former president Donald Trump’s legal team is responding to efforts to use the 14th Amendment to disqualify him from running for the White House. Democrats and anti-Trump Republicans have filed lawsuits in various states to keep him off the ballot, citing Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, which prohibits people who have engaged in a rebellion against the United States government from holding office.
Attorneys representing the former president argue that those claiming he headed up a rebellion by disputing the outcome of the 2020 presidential election are using a flawed legal strategy.
Former President Donald Trump responded to efforts by Democrats to ban him from presidential primary ballots in 2024 on Monday, saying the U.S. Constitution protects him.
Trump is facing efforts in several states to remove his name from ballots over his involvement in the January 6, 2021 Capitol protests, which his critics argue amounted to an insurrection against the United States. Attorneys for Trump argue that his statements regarding the 2020 election are protected by the First Amendment.
“At no time do Petitioners argue that President Trump did anything other than engage in either speaking or refusing to speak for their argument that he engaged in the purported insurrection,” attorney Geoffrey Blue wrote in a Colorado court filing on Monday.
“The Fourteenth Amendment applies to one who ‘engaged in insurrection or rebellion,’ not one who only ‘instigated’ any action,” he added.
Section 3 of the 14th Amendment was originally included to apply to former members of the Confederacy after the conclusion of the Civil War. Many legal scholars have publicly stated that this does not apply to the former president.
Earlier this year, legal analyst Jonathan Turley wrote an op-ed in which he destroyed this theory:
The 14th Amendment bars those who took the oath and then “engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same.” It then adds that that disqualification can extend to those who have “given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof.” According to these experts, Jan. 6 was an “insurrection” and Trump gave “aid and comfort” to those who engaged in it by spreading election fraud claims and not immediately denouncing the violence.
But even the view that it was an “insurrection” is by no means a consensus. Polls have shown that most of the public view Jan. 6 for what it was: a protest that became a riot. One year after the riot, CBS News mostly downplayed and ignored the result of its own poll showing that 76 percent viewed it for what it was, as a “protest gone too far.” The view that it was an actual “insurrection” was far less settled, with almost half rejecting the claim, a division breaking along partisan lines.
Sulking in the Oval Office does not make Trump a seditionist. Indeed, despite formal articles of the second impeachment and years of experts insisting that Trump was guilty of incitement and insurrection, Special Counsel Jack Smith notably did not charge him with any such crime.
The reason is obvious. The evidence and constitutional standards would not have supported a charge of incitement or insurrection.
In essence, Democrats are insisting that Trump’s stance on the outcome of the 2020 election is somehow on the same level as Confederates who waged a bloody war against the U.S. Yet, it remains clear that Trump was never involved in any “insurrection” or rebellion against the government, therefore, the notion that the 14th Amendment applies is absurd on its face. Perhaps this is why some of the efforts to remove him from the ballot have already failed.
This attempt is just a hail-mary play in which anti-Trump elements are trying to throw whatever they can at the former president, hoping something will stick. But so far, it seems their efforts will be in vain.