Can Donald Trump Run for President Again? Debating the Definition of Insurrection
By Nicholas Riccardi and Christine Fernando
Published by the Associated Press
After the January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol, the question of whether former President Donald Trump can run for president again has been raised. Liberal groups have filed lawsuits in various states, including Colorado and Minnesota, seeking to prevent Trump from appearing on the ballot. They argue that Trump’s involvement in the insurrection disqualifies him from holding office, as stated in the rarely invoked 14th Amendment. However, the definition of “insurrection” has yet to be clearly defined in a legal context, making the outcome of these lawsuits uncertain.
While there has been ongoing public debate about whether the events of January 6 can be classified as an insurrection, the legal battle centers around the interpretation of the constitutional term. Legal experts and representatives from both sides of the lawsuits have been attempting to define “insurrection” in court. Nicholas Nelson, representing Trump, defines insurrection as an organized form of warfare or violence aimed at overthrowing the United States government. Ronald Fein, an attorney for the petitioners, argues that Trump’s actions on January 6 can be considered an insurrection because they obstructed the execution of a central Constitutional function. Ultimately, the interpretation of insurrection is a matter for the courts to decide.
The Role of Section Three
The discussion around whether the events of January 6 constitute an insurrection is significant because it relates directly to the application of Section Three of the 14th Amendment. Section Three prohibits individuals who have engaged in insurrection against the Constitution from holding office. While there are other legal reasons why these lawsuits may fail, the determination of whether the January 6 attack is categorized as an insurrection is crucial. During a hearing before the Minnesota Supreme Court, the justices expressed skepticism about the authority of states to disqualify Trump based on their interpretation of insurrection.
Examining historical context can provide insight into the interpretation of Section Three. Gerard Magliocca, an Indiana University law professor, conducted research on insurrection and found definitions from 150 years ago that described it as a rising of people in arms against their government. He also highlighted instances from the post-Civil War era where former confederates were barred from holding office, even for actions as minor as buying bonds in the rebel government. Congress passed a law in 1862 making insurrection a crime, but the constitutional language of Section Three does not require a criminal conviction.
During the Colorado hearing, Trump’s lawyers brought in their own constitutional expert, Robert Delahunty. Delahunty argued that the focus should not solely be on the definition of insurrection but on the phrase “insurrection against the United States Constitution” itself. He noted that some definitions of insurrection require the use of arms, while others do not. Delahunty’s testimony aimed to show that the plain meaning of insurrection is not sufficient to determine its application in the context of Section Three.
Section Three of the 14th Amendment has rarely been used in the last century. However, it has gained attention following the events of January 6. Free Speech For People unsuccessfully attempted to use Section Three to block the candidacy of Republican Representative Marjorie Taylor-Green. Another liberal group, Citizens for Reforming Ethics in Washington, successfully used Section Three to prevent a county commissioner from taking office after he was convicted of a misdemeanor related to the Capitol attack. These cases highlight the growing use of Section Three in legal proceedings.
The Debate Continues
The debate surrounding the definition of insurrection and its application to the events of January 6 is ongoing. Both sides of the lawsuits continue to present their arguments in court, with experts providing differing interpretations. Ultimately, it is up to the courts to determine whether former President Donald Trump can run for president again based on his involvement in the insurrection.
Read More of this Story at www.morningjournal.com – 2023-11-03 20:58:33
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