If Donald Trump did foment insurrection on January 6, 2021, neither impeachment nor the 25th Amendment is necessary. His presidency ended automatically that day under the 14th Amendment to the Constitution. That means nothing he did or does after the 6th has the force of law, including pardons.
Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment 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.
History and Role of the 14th Amendment
The 14th Amendment was ratified in 1868, in the wake of the Civil War. Sections 1 and 2 guarantee equal rights to all citizens, including voting rights. They codified protection of the freed African Americans, among others. That’s why the 14th Amendment serves as a cornerstone of civil rights to this day.
Section 3 is above. It disqualifies insurrectionists from serving in any government post if they’ve previously sworn to support the Constitution. Many Confederates had taken that oath, so they were disqualified. President Trump took that oath when he was inaugurated in January of 2017.
Instant and Automatic Disqualification
The 14th Amendment does not require a vote or judgment. It’s automatic and instant. The moment Trump “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” or gave “aid and comfort” to enemies of the Constitution, he ceased to be President. Any orders or pardons he gave or gives after that moment are invalid.
The same amendment also disqualifies members of Congress who foment insurrection. Representative Mo Brooks told the insurrectionist rally, “today is the day American patriots start taking down names and kicking ass.” So he may have been disqualified on January 6, along with many others.
Section 3 of the 14th Amendment has an exception: “But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.” Fat chance.
- History Tells Us Congress CAN Impeach the President After His Term
- History Tells Us the President Cannot “Self-Pardon”
- The Fort Pillow Massacre, Slavery Images: A Visual Record of the African Slave Trade and Slave Life in the Early African Diaspora 1892
- Tear gas outside the United States Capitol on 6 January 2021, byTyler Merbler, licensed through Wikipedia via the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license
© 2021 by David W. Tollen