Democrats consider using 14th Amendment ‘insurrection’ clause to bar Trump from office

Critics claim Trump ‘incited’ insurrection against U.S. Capitol

Updated: January 23, 2021 - 12:52pm

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Democrats in the U.S. Senate are publicly speculating on whether or not they can utilize the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution to bar former President Trump from ever holding public office again.

The 14th Amendment, passed in the wake of the Civil War, in part directs that no individual may hold any public office in the country if he or she “shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion” against the U.S. after taking an oath of office in support of the Constitution.

Democrats in Congress have claimed that President Trump’s fiery rhetoric at a Jan. 6 rally in Washington should be deemed “incitement” of insurrection due to a mob of individuals having stormed the U.S. Capitol following that speech.

“It’s an idea that’s out there that I think people are contemplating in the accountability space,” U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine told the Hill on Friday.

“The remedies of the 14th Amendment certainly may be appropriate for someone who incites an insurrection as Donald Trump did,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal said, while Sen. Chris Murphy called the measure "certainly a possibility.”

Legal experts have argued that, under First Amendment jurisprudence, it’s unlikely that Trump actually “incited” the Jan. 6 rioters, given the high bar the Supreme Court has set to meet that standard.

Impeachment can still proceed even if a public officeholder has not broken any crime, though it’s unclear if an individual can be held to the 14th Amendment’s standard if he or she has committed no actual crime.

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