Watchdog says insurrectionist lawmakers should be barred from public office — including Trump

Watchdog says insurrectionist lawmakers should be barred from public office — including Trump
Image via Wikimedia Commons.

Calling on election officials across the U.S. to recognize that the nation "is at a critical crossroads," a non-profit legal advocacy group on Tuesday cited the 14th Amendment as it demanded Republicans who aided the January 6 insurrection—including former President Donald Trump—be barred from holding public office in the future.

The democracy watchdog Free Speech for People sent letters to the secretaries of state of all 50 states as part of its 14point3 campaign, calling attention to Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, which states:

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.

"If you want to be elected president, you have to be 35 years old, you have to be a natural-born citizen, and you cannot take an oath of office and then turn around and incite an insurrection," said Ben Clements, board chair and senior legal advisor for the organization. "We are asking state election officials to do their job and follow the mandate of the Constitution."

The organization launched the campaign amid signs that Trump is preparing another presidential run in 2024, with rallies planned in key states this summer. At his first event over the weekend, Trump repeated the baseless lie that President Joe Biden was not the legitimate winner of the 2020 election, calling it "the scam of the century and the crime of the century."

Should Trump attempt to seek another term, Free Speech for People said, state election officials are duty-bound to ensure his name is left off ballots because he incited hundreds of his supporters to wage a violent attack on the Capitol building on January 6 as lawmakers were preparing to certify Biden's victory.

"Secretaries of state have a duty to ensure that candidates who seek to appear on their state ballots meet the constitutional qualifications for serving in public office," said Alexandra Flores-Quilty, the group's campaign director. "We are urging them to make clear that insurrectionists such as President Trump are barred from ever again holding public office, as is required under the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution."

While the former president explicitly told his supporters on January 6 to "stop the steal" and to go to the Capitol and demonstrate against the certification of the election results, other Republicans including Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) faced backlash for their roles as well.

Both senators amplified false claims that the election had been stolen and objected to the counting of votes in Arizona and Pennsylvania. They persisted in obstructing the democratic process even after the insurrection, in which five people were killed and more than 140 were injured.

Hawley also drew ire after a photograph of him raising his fist in support of the insurrection went viral. The two senators were joined by 145 other Republicans in the House and Senate who voted to overturn the election results hours after the chaos at the Capitol had been brought under control.

"Formerly elected officials who engaged in the violent insurrection at the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, or who gave aid or comfort to the insurrectionists must be held accountable," said Free Speech for People president John Bonifaz, "and if they seek to appear on the ballot again for any public office, secretaries of state and chief election officials must be clear: The Constitution bars it."

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