Does the civil war-era ban on rebels apply to Donald Trump?

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TTHE BOOK OF LEVITICUS prohibits woven clothing of two types of material; The British Parliament forbids the entry of anyone armed; and the American constitution prohibits rebels who have rebelled or rebelled from holding office again. Most such ancient restrictions are simply historical oddities. But sometimes they can be resurrected centuries later. That section that ignored the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, which was written after the civil war to prohibit officers who entered the confederacy to break up the republic, is to suddenly getting a lot of attention. For fear The Economist to be accused of selective editing, here it is:

“No person shall be Senator or Representative in Congress, or elect President and Vice-President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, which, having previously taken an oath, is a member. of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of the legislature of any State, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, has engaged in rebellion or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to his enemies. But the Congress with a vote of two thirds of each House, can remove such disability. “

You can probably see where this is going. Donald Trump took the oath of office when he became president. His supporters of violence staged a rebellion on January 6, 2021 when they broke into the Capitol and tried to overturn Mr. Trump’s election defeat certificate in particular – and the American constitutional order in general. This violence was not exactly aided and abetted by Mr Trump – who even after the attack could not stop himself from saying “we love you, you are very special” to the h -rioters – but started by his campaign to undermine faith in American Elections. And Mr. Trump, who is the frontrunner in the 2024 Republican presidential primary, is definitely trying to take office again. Does constitutional language meant to bar the likes of Jefferson Davis – a former Mississippi senator who was the first and only president of the Confederate States of America – also prohibit Mr Trump from do that?

Lawsuits making that argument have been filed in 28 states, according to a tracker compiled by Lawfare, a nonprofit group. Twenty are still waiting. Many of them have been filed by John Anthony Castro, a lawyer from Texas who himself is running, without notice, for the Republican presidential nomination. His tentative efforts are not making much headway with judges. More credible plaintiffs are bringing challenges that force judges to deal with uncomfortable questions about constitutional law that they surely hoped they would never have to think about.

So far, they seem willing to interfere in the 2024 election if they can avoid it. For example, look at the 100-page ruling by Sarah Wallace, a state judge in Colorado, which was released on November 17. Although Judge Wallace was convinced that “Trump engaged in insurrection on January 6, 2021 through incitement, and that the First Amendment does not protect Trump’s speech,” she ultimately ruled that the former president should not be removed from the ballot. That is because she does not believe that the president counts as an “official of the United States”, as mentioned in the section applicability of the 14th Amendment. She also writes, in an even more egregious act of hair-splitting, that the section was written to address those who “support the constitution, but are e president’s oath to “preserve, protect and defend.” Huh?

The legal dispute is not going to stop. Those who brought the case in Colorado are taking it to the Supreme Court. On November 8, the Minnesota Supreme Court dismissed a challenge to Mr Trump’s legitimacy as a candidate by pointing out that the constitutional ban did not apply to the upcoming primary ballot – calling it an “election it’s an in-party for in-party purposes” – but he said. that it could be raised again before the general election. On Nov. 14, a Michigan judge rejected a challenge on similar grounds but also argued that courts should get involved in what is essentially a “political question.”

This will also be appealed before the state Supreme Court. The challenges may be more successful as the general election nears — and if the federal or state prosecutors trying to impeach the former president in the 2020 election succeed turn on to get a conviction. With one state or federal judge agreeing to knock Mr. Trump off the ballot, it would increase the chance that the Supreme Court would step in to settle the matter once and for all.

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