Tag Archives: 14th Amendment

Colo. court invokes 14th … wow!

The Colorado Supreme Court has shown judicial courage that appears to defy precedent.

It has ruled that Donald Trump cannot run for the Republican presidential nomination in that state’s primary because he engaged in an insurrection against the U.S. government on Jan. 6, 2021.

The Constitution’s 14th Amendment says anyone who does such a thing cannot serve in public office. It doesn’t say a thing about “due process,” or “trial by jury,” or a “conviction” of a crime. The Colorado court said, in effect, that the amendment speaks clearly and loudly enough to disqualify the former POTUS from seeking the GOP nomination in Colorado.

I normally would cheer this decision and declare victory in the fight to keep Trump out of the White House. Except for this caveat.

Trump is going to appeal the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court, which is packed with a 6-3 super-conservative majority. Three justices were nominated by Trump, so it is quite possible they will vote to overrule the Colorado decision; throw in similar votes from Justices Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas and Chief John Roberts and then, well … there you have it.

I am left to hope that a couple of those conservatives might be able to break away from their political loyalty and read the 14th Amendment carefully. Then they can assess that what Trump did on 1/6 qualifies as an incitement of the attack that ensued that day.

Yes, I know. It’s a faint hope … but it’s all I have.

Ex-POTUS faces legal steamroller

My ego is in check, meaning that I am willing to acknowledge I am wrong far more frequently than I am right.

There. I’ve laid down my predicate for being able to boast just a little on something I said a while ago … which is that Donald Trump’s legal difficulties well might overwhelm his continuing campaign to become president once again.

Trump is facing the real prospect of being declared ineligible to run for president based on a clause in the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Section 3 of the 14th Amendment says that no one who engages in an insurrection or gives “aid and comfort” to those who do is ineligible to seek public office.

Legal scholars on all sides are coming to the same conclusion: The amendment is clear, that Trump did seek to overthrow the government and he damn sure gave aid and comfort to the job that stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

The amendment makes no stipulation that says an insurrectionist must be convicted of a crime, only that the he or she participated in the act.

Boy howdy! Trump damn sure did participate.

The 14th Amendment was enacted just after the Civil War. Its aim was to prevent states from seceding and declaring war against the government.

To be clear, this matter is far from settled. There have been lawsuits filed and myriad court battles loom. This matter could up in the laps of the U.S. Supreme Court. I won’t pretend to predict how the SCOTUS would rule on this case. Its members include three Trump nominated justices, along with three other conservatives.

One final note. The calls for disqualification are coming from conservative lawyers and assorted legal scholars along with progressives. Maybe the right-wingers out here among the masses can beat some sense into the skulls of the six conservatives on the nation’s highest court.

Donald Trump, to be abundantly clear, is now engaged in the fight of his life.  I don’t know what y’all might think, but from my North Texas perch, he is looking more and more like a goner.

Is Trump disqualified?

Can it possibly be true that Donald J. Trump’s conduct on 1/6 — his provoking the assault on our government and his giving “aid and comfort” to those who mounted the attack — has disqualified him from seeking the presidency?

That is the view of two highly esteemed legal experts. One of them is a conservative, the other is a liberal. They are, respectively, former U.S. District Judge Michael Luttig and Harvard law professor Laurence Tribe.

The have written an op-ed in which they declare that the 14th Amendment to the Constitution means that Trump is hereby disqualified from seeking the presidency. Period … full stop!

Luttig said that when the amendment was ratified in 1868 — shortly after the Civil War — it made no qualifier to declaring someone ineligible if they knowingly engaged in an insurrection or rebellion. The amendment’s intent was to prevent another war within the United States.

Indeed, at least two congressional leaders — House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell — are on record declaring that Trump was responsible for the attack on the government that sought to stop the certification of the 2020 presidential election results. Oh, did I mention that Trump lost that election to Joe Biden?

They have been joined, interestingly, by a host of conservative legal scholars who contend that Trump, indeed, should be barred from the presidential ballot because of what he said that day on the Ellipse. He challenged the crowd to take control of the electoral process and stop the certification of what he contends to this day as a “stolen” election.

Two conservative law professors, William Baude and Michael Stokes Paulsen, wrote in the University of Pennsylvania Law Review, according to CBS News:

In writing about Trump’s speech from the Ellipse on January 6, 2021, to his supporters who then overran the Capitol, Baude and Paulsen said Trump delivered a “general and specific message” that the election was stolen, calling on the crowd to take immediate action to block the transfer of power before falling silent for hours as the insurrection progressed.

“Trump’s deliberate inaction renders his January 6 speech much more incriminating in hindsight, because it makes it even less plausible (if it was ever plausible) that the crowd’s reaction was all a big mistake or misunderstanding,” they write.

Oh … my … goodness!

When those upon whom you depend for legal support turn on you in this fashion, it seems to me that it’s time to call it quits.

What the 14th omits …

As I read — and re-read — Section 3 of the Constitution’s 14th Amendment, I am struck by the absence of a single, simple qualifier that our founders left out of that clause.

It refers to the commission of an “insurrection or rebellion” by someone who might want to return to public office after having pledged to protect the government against such actions.

It states that “No person” shall be a senator, U.S. representative, president or vice president if they violate that oath. Period.

It says nothing about whether that person must be convicted in a court of law to disqualify him from office.

I bring this up because of constitutional scholar chatter that’s making the rounds about whether Donald Trump is qualified to seek the presidency in 2024. Some argue that of course he should be tried in court and have that decision delivered by a jury. Others argue that the Constitution is silent on that issue, therefore, he is disqualified just by an allegation of such an act.

I don’t consider myself to be a constitutional absolutist. I have tended to interpret the founders’ intent a bit more liberally. It is tempting, though, to apply “original intent” to my reading of the 14th Amendment, meaning that if the founders didn’t declare a qualification that it doesn’t exist.

Here is the section in its entirety. You be the judge:

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.

I do hope we can let the courts decide this matter quickly. My preference is for Trump to be convicted and then barred from public office for the rest of his miserable life.

14th Amendment stands out

It appears that of all the 27 amendments to the U.S. Constitution, the 14th Amendment has emerged as the most discussed, most cited, most argued and arguably the most important of them all.

I’ve been following a host of legal and political battles for a long time. Just lately, though, it seems that the 14th Amendment keeps surfacing from the legal mumbo-jumbo that at times accompanies these discussions.

Let’s ponder a few notions, shall we?

Section 1 makes two important distinctions. One is that anyone born in the United States is granted citizenship upon birth. A Republican presidential candidate, Ron DeSantis, wants to remove that stipulation from the law. Section 1 also says all citizens are entitled to “equal protection under the law.” This clause has come into play in decisions — to cite one example — regarding gay marriage.

Section 3 declares that anyone who participates in sedition or an insurrection shall be denied the opportunity to seek public office at any level in this country. Hmm. Does that one sound familiar? It should. If Donald J. Trump is indicted for allegedly fomenting the insurrection of 1/6 and then is convicted in a trial, he cannot serve in any public office … ever!

Section 4 declares that the nation’s good faith and credit shouldn’t be messed with, giving the lie to the notion by the MAGA morons who sought to deny efforts to increase the nation’s debt ceiling. Failure to honor our debts would have plunged us into economic catastrophe.

All of this is my way of wondering: Do the MAGA cultists know a damn thing about the Constitution, the oaths of office they take to honor and protect it or the penalties they face if they fail to honor their oath?

I must remind them that they take that oath while placing their hand on a holy book. Thus, the oath is sacred, given the religious tenets to which the politicians claim to follow.

The framers didn’t craft the perfect government framework. It’s pretty damn inclusive and those wise men managed to cram many key provisions into a single amendment to the Constitution.

Moreover, if the MAGA nitwits had half a brain, they would understand that “constitutional absolutism” means they follow the document to the letter … or else.


Why end this amendment?

Some things defy explanation, definition or any semblance of reason. Ladies and gents, I present to you the idiot governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis, a Republican candidate for president of the United States.

DeSantis said recently he intends to move to remove a portion of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the clause that grants citizenship to anyone born in the United States of America.

Specifically, he is taking aim at the children of immigrants.

Holy crap-ola, man!

I don’t get this bat-crap crazy dude. He is the grandson of immigrants. He was granted citizenship the moment he entered this world. That’s good enough. His parents were U.S. citizens the moment they were born.

I guess DeSantis’s real target is the undocumented immigrant who sneaked into the country illegally. Therefore, according to DeSantis, it’s OK to punish those people by denying their children a constitutional right that has been part of the Constitution since 1868.

This is short-sighted, gratuitously punitive and petulant in the extreme.

I, too, am the grandson of immigrants. That means my father was the son of immigrants, too. He was a U.S. citizen when this country was attacked by Japanese military forces on Dec. 7, 1941. He enlisted that very day in the Navy because he wanted to get into the fight to save the world from tyranny.

Dad never would have imagined we would be facing a new form of tyranny here at home in the form of a goofy governor seeking to deny liberty to those who were born in this great land.


Constitution lays it out there

Section 4 of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, speaks with crystal clarity about how our government must treat the debt it owes.

Here is what it says: “The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned.”

Wow, man. “Shall not be questioned,” the amendment states.

You know what this means? It means that the Republican dodge in demanding spending cuts before approving an increase in the debt ceiling is, um, an unconstitutional tactic.

President Biden is in the middle of talks with congressional leaders of both parties. He met with them in the Oval Office the other day. They’re planning another meeting on Friday. He said he is “considering” invoking the 14th Amendment if he and the GOP cannot reach an agreement on the debt ceiling.

I am not a constitutional scholar, but I certainly know a declarative statement when I see one.

Section 4 of the 14the Amendment is as declarative statement as anything I can find in the Constitution.

Joe Biden is as fluent in constitutional language as any man who’s ever held the office of president. Mr. President, you need to remind your congressional colleagues of what the nation’s governing document tells them.


It’s all about ‘equal protection’

Let’s set the record straight on a key constitutional point: the nation’s founders didn’t get it entirely correct when they drafted the U.S. Constitution in the late 18th century; it has needed amendments designed to provide for a “more perfect Union.”

The 14th Amendment, enacted in 1868, states, “nor shall any State … deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” The Equal Protection Clause contained in the first part of that amendment, therefore, means that no one shall be denied the right to marry the person they love. Period. Full stop.

That also means the U.S. Senate acted correctly this week when it cast a bipartisan vote to codify that same-sex and interracial marriage shall be part of the federal statutes.

The Supreme Court agreed with the Equal Protection Clause when it endorsed same-sex marriage in 2015. That protection, though, is in jeopardy, given the court’s recent ruling to strike down Roe v. Wade, the landmark ruling that legalized abortion. Conservative justices have hinted they might be inclined to strike down the Equal Protection Clause, too, the benchmark for the ruling that allowed same-sex and interracial marriage.

That cannot be allowed to happen.

It’s also instructive that two of the “no” votes in the Senate came from Texas’s two Republican senators, John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, both of whom profess to be legal scholars. They, instead, are revealing their partisan stripes, appealing to the wild-eyed base within the GOP’s lunatic voters.

I could have predicted that Ted Cruz would have voted that way. Cornyn’s “no” vote is deeply disappointing. At least, though, they’re both on the record saying that they are unwilling to offer protection to all Americans, giving them the constitutional right to marry the person they love.

Next comes the House of Representatives. May that body show the wisdom demonstrated by most of their Senate colleagues and then send this legislation to President Biden’s desk for his signature that makes it the law of this great land.


Did she violate her oath? Yep!

The 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution says this in Section 3 of that amendment; it provides a vivid explanation of who can serve in Congress.

It states: 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.

A member of Congress, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Georgia Republican, is being challenged by those who believe she engaged in an insurrection on 1/6. That she helped incite the crowd to storm the Capitol Building that day.

If she is found culpable, her congressional career could end.

OK, recognizing my own bias, I believe she did what she is accused of doing and that she should be denied the chance to seek re-election from the 14th Congressional District of Georgia.

The QAnon-believing, Stop the Steal, Big Lie believer has been nothing but a pain in ass since she took her seat in Congress in early 2021.

But … let’s allow this evidentiary hearing process to play out.


Count the ‘persons in each state’

It’s a given that Donald J. Trump doesn’t know the U.S. Constitution, the document he swore on oath to defend and protect.

With that established, let’s understand that when Trump says that census counters are not to count undocumented immigrants as part of the 2020 census, he is violating the Constitution … which he doesn’t understand.

Trump wants to limit the count of those who are living here to just citizens, actual Americans. No can do, Mr. POTUS. That 14th Amendment to the Constitution, the one that talks about equal protection under the law, has this to say about how states must be represented in Congress:

“Section 2: Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States, according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State … “

If you look throughout the 14th Amendment, you will not find a word in it that stipulates that only citizens can be among the “whole number of persons” counted in each state. The framers threw open the counted to be “persons.” Citizens or non-citizens, documented or undocumented immigrants. They all count the same, according to the U.S. Constitution.

That is the basis for progressive groups complaining about the restrictions that Trump is seeking to place on the census takers.

This kind of ham-handedness would have an impact on Texas, which stands to gain as many as three new representatives once the census is taken. The state also is home to quite a large number of undocumented immigrants, which you know about already. Many of those immigrants happen to be “dreamers,” the folks brought here as children when their parents sneaked into the country to pursue a better life for themselves and their families.

Trump is trifling with the Constitution in a way that is going to do harm to communities and to states. He must not be allowed to get away with this attempt to pilfer power from states that deserve a loud and clear voice within the halls of government.