Letter to the Editor - 1-18-24

Stand By The Constitution

As controversy intensifies about whether the Constitution disqualifies Trump from holding office, we trust our election officials, judges, and justices to enforce the Constitution as their oaths of office require.

From 1776, Thomas Paine inspires:

“THESE are the times that try men’s souls. The summer judge and the sunshine justice will, in this crisis, shrink from enforcing the constitution of their country; but he that stands by it NOW, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.” (Based on The American Crisis Number 1.)

1. Section 3 of Amendment XIV is clear: “No person shall ... hold any office, ... who, having previously taken an oath ... to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same .... But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.”

2. There is only one critical question — Did Trump engage in insurrection against the Constitution? If “Yes,” Section 3 prohibits Trump from holding office. If “No,” Section 3 does not apply.

3. The prohibition is automatic and absolute (“No person shall ...”). The prohibition does not require action by Congress or conviction of any crime.

4. While Section 3 does not require Congressional action in order to disqualify, it permits Congress (by two-thirds of each House) to remove the disqualification. Congress has not removed the disqualification; the prohibition is in effect if Trump engaged in insurrection.

5. In the second impeachment of Donald J. Trump, the House of Representatives voted 232 to 197 to indict Trump for “Incitement of Insurrection,” and the Senate voted “Guilty” by a vote of 57 to 43. While the Senate vote fell short of the two-thirds necessary to convict in an impeachment trial, Congress has determined by a majority vote of both the House of Representatives and the Senate that Trump engaged in insurrection.

6. The results of criminal prosecutions of Trump are not relevant to the Constitutional question of qualification to hold office.

7. State courts and election officials are considering the issue in the context of the preparation of ballots for Republican Party primaries. Both the District Court and the Supreme Court of Colorado determined that Trump engaged in insurrection as did the Secretary of State of Maine. Some state courts and election officials have avoided the issue on procedural grounds. There will be more decisions shortly.

8. Some argue that enforcing Section 3 to disqualify Trump from office and the ballot would be anti-democratic and that voters should be able to vote for Trump even if he is an oath-breaking insurrectionist. On the contrary, in the context of the determination by Congress and state courts and election officials that Trump has engaged in insurrection, failure to enforce Section 3 would be anti-democratic. American democracy will shine as Section 3 is enforced and Trump is prohibited from holding office again. We shall then be able to express our love and thanks to the election officials, judges, and justices who stand by the Constitution.

G. A. Mudge


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