Yes, Trump CAN Be Disqualified—And a Trial is Not Necessarily Required

In a remarkable turn of events, there’s a very real chance that Donald Trump’s name could vanish from presidential election ballots, not just in one state, but potentially in numerous states come 2024. Contrary to widespread online misconceptions, Trump’s disqualification under the formidable Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution doesn’t hinge on a criminal conviction. There may not even be a trial under the relevant state-law standards. If you’re curious about the intricate legal aspects of this, read on.

Photo credit: (The above is actually only Section One.)

I’m Rieux, a Kossack since 2004 and a seasoned attorney with over two decades of experience in constitutional issues in state and federal courts. (constitution.congress.gov) (citizensforethics.org) I believe I can shed light on a critical constitutional matter that’s been gaining traction in recent news: whether Donald Trump should be barred from appearing on the 2024 Presidential election ballots based on Section Three of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Photo credit: Insurrectionist Cuoy Griffin haz a sad.

You might recall a New Mexico county commissioner (also linked to “Cowboys for Trump” and the January 6, 2021 Capitol attack) who was removed from office a year ago under Section Three. You might have heard various legal scholars, including members of the conservative Federalist Society, argue that Trump should be disqualified under this section. Moreover, lawsuits seeking Trump’s removal from ballots have already been filed in Colorado, New Hampshire, and Florida. The momentum is building, and we’re just getting started. (portside.org)

Photo credit: Please, hammer, DO hurt him.

Amidst the sea of online misinformation, I want to provide clarity on the procedural aspects of this issue. Let’s start with Section Three of the Fourteenth Amendment:

Photo credit: Probably ineligible.

“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.”

Photo credit: Architects call this part of the Supreme Court building the “façade.”

The legal experts and court precedents overwhelmingly support the case for disqualifying Trump based on Section Three. But let’s dive deeper into the procedural aspects, where court precedents play a pivotal role.

One common misconception is that disqualifying a candidate under Section Three is an uncharted territory in American history. This is false. Section Three has prevented thousands of aspiring officials from taking office over its 150-plus years of existence, with some cases reaching American courts. These court decisions offer valuable insights.

Importantly, courts have consistently held that determining a candidate’s eligibility under Section Three is akin to assessing their qualifications – much like age, citizenship, or residency requirements for presidential candidates. This disqualification is not a criminal penalty, and no criminal conviction is necessary. Every court that has examined the issue agrees on this.

For instance, the Louisiana Supreme Court removed a former-insurrectionist state judge from office without any criminal conviction. (dailykos.com) North Carolina blocked a duly elected county sheriff from taking office for participating in an insurrection, again without a criminal conviction. Section Three has no ties to criminal convictions.

Now, let’s shift our focus to the procedural aspect. (npr.org) When it comes to civil and administrative proceedings, defendants don’t enjoy the same level of procedural protections as they do in criminal cases. Notably, they may not even have the right to a trial. If there are no genuine disputes about material facts, a judge or executive official can make a final decision without a trial. (citizensforethics.org)

In Trump’s case, it’s arguable that there are no relevant factual disputes. His undisputed actions during the January 6 insurrection might be enough to conclude that he participated in an insurrection. This could eliminate the need for a trial altogether.

So, who decides a candidate’s eligibility to run for office? (citizensforethics.org) The complexity arises because American elections follow different legal regimes in each state and the District of Columbia. (glonme.com)

Some states empower executive-branch officials to reject ineligible candidates, while others consider ballot construction a purely “ministerial” act. In the latter case, parties can initiate civil court proceedings to have allegedly ineligible candidates removed from ballots.

In Colorado, Secretary of State Jena Griswold holds the power to reject ineligible candidates. According to the Section Three lawsuit filed this week, Griswold can either use her removal authority or the court can remove Trump’s name from the 2024 Colorado presidential primary ballot. (papers.ssrn.com) (talkingpointsmemo.com)

However, Trump wouldn’t sit idly by; he’d appeal. This scenario sets the stage for court petitions and appeals across all fifty states and the District of Columbia, possibly even involving federal courts. Unless the U.S. (citizensforethics.org) Supreme Court intervenes with a definitive ruling, many states could rule that Trump is ineligible and should be removed from their ballots.

It’s almost inevitable that the U.S. (glonme.com) Supreme Court will ultimately decide the disqualification issue. (glonme.com) (law.cornell.edu) While some believe they might try to avoid it, many expect the six Republican Justices to find a way to rule that Trump isn’t disqualified under Section Three. However, there’s a slight possibility that Chief Justice Roberts and another Republican Justice might decide that ending Trump’s political career swiftly could serve the long-term interests of their right-wing agenda.

In conclusion, the battle over Trump’s eligibility to run in 2024 is just beginning, with multiple legal proceedings and a potential showdown at the U.S. (dailykos.com) Supreme Court. The outcome remains uncertain, but it’s a constitutional drama that politically mature Americans should watch closely.

Caren White

Top Writer in Politics and Government. I always speak my mind.

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