by Bob Barr
Whether it is their fear of Donald Trump or their hatred of him, congressional Democrats will stop at nothing in their incessant drive to destroy him. Most recently, they have dredged up a post-Civil War era provision in the Constitution as a possible way to keep him from serving a second term as president in 2025.
Democrats’ latest anti-Trump gambit is Section 3 of the 14th Amendment. If you are not familiar with this provision, you are not alone; it was ratified in 1868 and was last used more than a century ago. The language was inserted into the otherwise important 14th Amendment, which secures our vital “privileges or immunities of citizen” along with “due process” and “equal protection of the laws.”
Section 3 of the Amendment, however, has nothing to do with those important guarantees. Its purpose was simply to prevent individuals who had taken up arms against the United States, or who had rendered “aid or comfort” to enemies of the United States, from later serving in the federal or state government.
Section 3 was last used in 1919 against a sitting United States Senator alleged to have given assistance to Germany in World War I. Even then, he was later reseated, and Section 3 has lain undisturbed for well over a century. Until now.
A year ago, Democrats were quick to label the January 6th demonstrations on Capitol Hill an “insurrection,” and their Google search of that word appears to have led them to Section 3 of the 14th Amendment because – you guessed it – the phrase “insurrection or rebellion” appears in it as an apt description, not of a demonstration but of a horrendous civil war the country had just gone through.
Undaunted by this inapposite historical rationale underlying Section 3, some Democrats appear to be seriously considering it as a way to stop Trump from ever again serving in any state or federal position including, of course, president.
The tortured reasoning (if it be called that) behind this latest ploy appears to be that Trump deliberately and intentionally encouraged those individuals who did unlawfully enter the Capitol on January 6th, and in so doing, incited and gave “aid and comfort” to those who thereby engaged in “insurrection or rebellion” against the United States. And, Voila! Donald Trump falls within the prohibitory language of Section 3 and can never again hold public office.
Except, of course, this analysis holds no legal, historic, factual, or common-sense water.
As explained by Gerard Magliocca at Lawfare, the only conceivable use of Section 3 for the January 6th riots would be to pursue state or federal officeholders who were present among the group of protestors when the Capitol was breeched (and, to even have an outside shot with a far-Left judge, they would need to have been among those doing more than just standing inside the Capitol building at the time). This is also assuming federal prosecutors could convince a judge or jury that an impromptu protest, in which a small group of individuals took things too far, constitutes a “rebellion” or “insurrection” on par with the Civil War or WWI.
Democrats have other conservatives within their obtuse Section 3 gunsights. Earlier this month, for example, a far-Left group of North Carolina voters announced it would appeal to the courts to disqualify GOP rising star Rep. Madison Cawthorn from office under Section 3. Cawthorn was not present among the small group that stormed the Capitol, and he offered no assistance at all to those that did. His only “offense” was a speech delivered at a rally echoing sentiments held by many Americans today. Yet, to the Left, this protected expression is tantamount to a full-scale rebellion against the United States.
Were Democrats not so obsessed with Trump, this Section 3 Plan would be laughable. But it is not funny. It is sick; just as are their other ploys to hang onto power no matter the cost to the country or the Constitution.
Whether it is resuscitating a Civil War-era provision intended to keep Confederate sympathizers from holding government office, proposing to pack the Supreme Court because they disagree with some of its decisions, or some other cockamamie scheme, Democrats and others who pursue such destructive courses have no business whatsoever serving in any position of trust in government.