May 27, 2024

Why Doesn’t Anyone Mention This Part of 14th Amendment?

The Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution is all the rage right now, particularly because some states have tried to use the third section as a way to keep former President Donald Trump off the primary ballots in different states. The text of this section reads:

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.

Fourteenth Amendment
Fourteenth Amendment Explained

A lot of the commentary I have read has said that a key part of the defense is that there is no mention of the President’s office being missing, or whether the office of the President of the United States is an officer of the United States, which boggles my mind because of the first line.

What we see in the first line is that the protection against a President being someone who staged an insurrection against the United States is actually a prohibition of the electors of the President or Vice President from having been an insurrectionist. Basically, the founders (and I would believe that those who authored the 14th Amendment) expected that the electors would be able to stop someone who was a Confederate from being able to assume the office of the Presidency. That is the whole point of there not being a direct election of the President– the electors from the states are supposed to prevent someone who should not be in the office from assuming office.

So, electors should be disqualified if they participated in an insurrection, and those who are chosen as electors should exercise good judgment (whether it’s based on the age of the candidate, the history of insurrection, etc.) as to who they vote for as well. We may have complicated things by forcing electors to vote for who they represent when the voting took place, but that’s in the state’s prerogative to fix as well.

For me, the President’s office is missing from this section because there was no need to have that office here– they protected themselves by controlling who could be the electors.

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