Sunday, September 10, 2023

Why would Free Speech for People care who the GOP nominee is?

 Weekly Opinion Editorial


by Steve Fair


     The 14th amendment to the U.S. Constitution was adopted in 1868.  It is one of the three amendments in the founding document known as the Reconstruction Amendments.  The 13th amendment abolished slavery, the 14th amendment has what is known as the ‘insurrection/disqualification clause’ and the 15th amendment granted voting rights to citizens no matter their race.  Of the three, the 14th was the most controversial and contested.  The states of the defeated Confederacy were forced to ratify the 14th before they could regain representation in Congress.

     The 14th has recently come under discussion in regard to section 3- the so-called insurrection/disqualification clause as it relates to former President Trump.  Section 3 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. But Congress may, by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.

     Last week, a DC group- Free Speech for People(FSP)- sued to block former President Trump to be included on the GOP primary ballot in Colorado.  They contend Trump violated the 14th amendment’s section 3 provision and therefore cannot hold elective office.  It is likely the first of several similar lawsuits.  The Trump campaign said the suit is stretching the law and has no legal basis.  Three observations:

     First, who is Free Speech for People?  Established in 2010 by John Bonifaz and Jeff Clements, after they lost a case before the Supreme Court (Citizens United vs. FEC), FSP advocates a new constitutional amendment that would clarify the Bill of Rights applies to people, not corporations.  FSP wants to cap the amount of money that can be spent in political campaigns(at least on the candidates they don’t support).  They advocate not allowing corporate contributions to campaigns.  Free Speech for People has also embraced a left-of-center agenda, and lobbied for President Donald Trump’s impeachment from the day he took office in 2017. 

  Why would a left-wing organization get involved in a Republican primary?  Why would FSP care who the GOP nominee is in 2024?  Why are they trying to keep Trump off the ballot?  Trump’s ability to energize his base and get his vote out presents the biggest challenge to Biden and the Democrats.  FSP is for neither free speech or the people.

     Second, using the 14th to disqualify Trump would be politically ludicrous.  Trump is charged with 91criminal counts in four different jurisdictions, but none are inciting a riot or seditious conspiracy.  Most legal scholars believe Trump would have had to physically been at the Capitol for the 14th Section 3 to come into play.  If FSP is successful at keeping Trump off the GOP ballot, his supporters might do more than just post on social media.  Politically, using the 14th to prevent Trump from being on the ballot would be devastating for the country.

     Three, GOP voters should be given the choice with Trump on the ballot.  Currently, the former POTUS is polling at 52.7% with Republican voters, but the first primary/caucus isn’t until January 15th.    A lot can/will happen in five months.  Let GOP voters decide Trump’s fate

     In politics, it is common practice to attempt to ‘clear the primary,’ but it is usually Party leaders and large donors doing the screening.  They work behind the scenes to clear the field for their preferred candidate.  They justify their action by declaring an extended primary hurts the candidate in the general election.  Their action cuts out/ignores the voter.  Why would a liberal organization (FSP) go all in on keeping Trump off the GOP ballot?  The same reason- they want to cut out the voter!

No comments: