Former US President Donald Trump must be removed from the Colorado ballot for the state’s presidential elections the following year, as per an order from the state’s highest court. Trump is “disqualified from holding the office of President under Section Three of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution,” according to a decision made by the Colorado Supreme Court on Tuesday, December 19.
The ruling concerned Trump’s purported involvement in the attacks on the US Capitol, which serves as the nation’s seat of government, on January 6, 2021. Supporters of Trump demonstrated against the election of Democratic candidate Joe Biden in 2020, arguing that the polls were manipulated. They broke out into riots and broke into government buildings in Washington, DC.
Trump has declared that he will appeal the decision, and the US Supreme Court will probably hear the case afterwards. However, what exactly is Section 3 of the US Constitution’s 14th Amendment, which declares Trump ineligible?
What is the US Constitution’s 14th Amendment?
According to US government archives, the US Congress passed and ratified the Amendment between 1866 and 1868. This law “extended liberties and rights granted by the Bill of Rights to formerly enslaved people” and was introduced following the conclusion of the Civil War (1861–65).
The Amendment’s third section states: “No person who has previously taken an oath to support the United States Constitution as a member of Congress, an officer of the United States, a member of any State legislature, an executive or judicial officer of any State, or a representative in Congress, legislature, or electorate, shall be eligible to serve as a senator or representative in Congress, to vote for the President and Vice-President, or to hold any other civil or military office under the United States or any State. However, Congress may eliminate such a disability with a vote of two-thirds of each House.
In short, it states that anyone elected to a government position in the past and who participated in an uprising or rebellion is ineligible to run for office again.
Following the end of the Civil War, the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments were proposed. Slavery was the reason behind the war that broke out between the states in the North and the South. According to the History Channel, tensions between the two sides grew as American states attempted to expand westward. While the South desired to keep slavery in place, the North wanted it outlawed. The economies of the Southern states also depended more on agriculture, where enslaved African-Аmericans made up the majority of the labour force.
Seven southern states—South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas—decided to secede from the US in a matter of months after President Abraham Lincoln was elected in 1860 and received the backing of the northern states. At that point, the Unionists (the North) and the Confederacy (the South) went to war.
Slavery was eventually abolished due to the Unionists’ victory in the war. The three amendments were progressively enacted to grant former slaves rights. Citizenship was given to “all persons born or naturalized in the United States” under the 14th Amendment, including those in slavery.
University of Maryland law professor Mark A. Graber writes in an article for The Conversation: “As a constitutional law scholar, I believe every sentence and sentence fragment encapsulates the nation’s resolve to be governed by constitutional politics following the Civil War. Those who want to see political and constitutional changes have to follow the guidelines outlined in the document. People cannot replace reasoning, coalition building, and voting with force, violence, or intimidation in a democracy.
Thus, it would be considered a threat to that system of constitutional politics to suggest that an elected official would have rebelled against the constitution itself.
Additionally, the clause would further the war-damaged principles of unity and sovereignty. Graber says that “when two or more people resisted a federal law by force or violence for a public, or civic, purpose,” that is considered an insurrection. It is a statement of defiance against the rules and institutions that are currently in place rather than necessarily calling for the overthrow of the government.
Finally, how could impact the Trump candidacy for 2024:
According to Reuters, section 3 has “rarely been tested” in court. It has just now been brought up in connection with a former president.
There are primarily conservative justices on the Supreme Court. Presidents in the United States appoint judges who serve lifelong, primarily along party lines. According to the Reuters report, even if the court upholds the Colorado ruling, it would mean that Trump will not be able to win the state’s election in 2024. Colorado has historically seen the Democratic nominee win the electorate, so the recent decision is not thought to be especially detrimental to Trump’s chances of winning the state.