Using the Constitution’s “Insurrection Clause” to prevent Donald Trump from running again is one way to put an end to his political career, but it is definitely not the best way.
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Objectively, there is little doubt that Donald Trump staged a coup, and that he inspired an insurrection on January 6. Therefore, as per Section Three of the 14th Amendment, he is not eligible to become president again.
As far as constitutional language goes, that provision is pretty straightforward.
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 above clearly applies to Trump.
The only question is whether the 14th Amendment is the right tool to ensure that the man who tried to overturn an election and whose supporters launched a violent attack on the Capitol to assist him in that cause never sees the inside of the White House again.
In some ways, it is the simplest alternative. After all, if the Constitution says he can’t serve (which is a bit of a misnomer in the case of Trump) again, then he can’t.
Easy as that.
And, by resolving these challenges to Trump’s eligibility now, Republicans have ample time to pick another candidate who never participated in an insurrection.
However, the problem is that it seems unlikely that the former president and his supporters will be cool with that.
During Monday’s hearing in Colorado, which is the first state in which a judge will consider this question, it certainly didn’t sound that way.
(Warning: Extreme Irony Alert!!!)
“When it comes to decide who should lead our nation, it’s the people of the United States of America who make that decision, not six voters in Colorado who’ve picked and chosen who they should file a lawsuit against,” said Trump attorney Scott Gessler during the hearing, referring to the plaintiffs in the case.
Obviously, US voters did make the decision who should lead them. That happened in 2020, and the only reason Trump is in this predicament is that he refused to accept that decision.
Ultimately, however, a ruling against the former president in this case (and similar ones) would likely spark violence that will exceed that of January 6.
Now, should the rule of law be held hostage by someone like Trump and his rabid followers? Clearly not. But, in this case, the potential for political unrest is a consideration.
And that has always been the problem with the former president. He says and does things that no other politician — or no other American, for that matter — could get away with because he is backed by a mob.
We are also seeing this in the current civil fraud case in New York and the federal coup case in Washington, DC, where limited gag orders have so far done very little to stop Trump from trying to influence the proceedings by bullying or harassing court staff, prosecutors, and potential witnesses.
Using the 14th Amendment, while legally sound, will just turn the former president into a martyr in the eyes of his cult-like followers, and that will guarantee unrest for years to come.
Therefore, the most effective way to get rid of Trump is to, once again, soundly defeat him at the ballot box.