I put this out on Twitter, but nobody responded. Rather than take the hint, I’m going to burn an Open Thread talking about a non-Washingotn thing for longer than I’d like. And it’s almost certainly nonsense. You’re welcome and sorry and you’re welcome.
At what point do we cross the 14th Amendment threshold for denying people office?
After the Civil War, Congress passed the 13th Amendment outlawing slavery. It also passed the 14th and 15th Amendments to try to make sure that it wasn’t just slavery, and that the slave population was integrated into society. So the 15th Amendment is an attempt to make sure you couldn’t stop people from voting based on race.
The 14th Amendment was a bit of a grab bag. People think of it as making sure that equal protection and rights apply to states. And maybe they know that’s where the if you’re born in the US you’re automatically a citizen bit of the Constitution comes from. It certainly has that. But, it also has some other stuff: We’re not going to honor confederate money or debts, and since slaves are free we’re not paying to free them.
For my question, I’m referring specifically to section 3:
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.
Obviously, they meant the Civil War, but it has been used to block people from taking office since then. It doesn’t say how or when we should determine if people “have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof” and doesn’t offer any burden of proof.
Have people in the Trump administration, or who might join it, passed that bar? It wouldn’t apply to Trump, since January 20 was the first time he took an oath to support the Constitution. On the other hand, it’s looking more and more like Flynn was working with Russia to fuck up a US election. We aren’t at war with Russia, but then again, we weren’t technically at war in Korea or Viet Nam, but surely it would have counted then. If there are other officials who subverted American democracy, do they need 2/3 of both houses before they can serve again, and what happens if they’re already serving when we get proof but they don’t resign?