Weekly Opinion Editorial
OUT THE VOTER!
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.
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
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