Pennsylvania's Doug Mastriano is constitutionally disqualified from holding office: columnist

Pennsylvania's Doug Mastriano is constitutionally disqualified from holding office: columnist
Pennsylvania Republican gubernatorial nominee Doug Mastriano in 2014 (Wikimedia Commons).

The Republican nominee for the governorship of Pennsylvania, State Senator Doug Mastriano, was an active participant in the January 6th, 2021 Capitol insurrection. Having received the endorsement of former President Donald Trump, Mastriano cruised to victory in last week's GOP primary, setting up a November showdown with State Attorney General Josh Shapiro, the Democratic Party's liberal candidate.

Legal experts, however, are demanding that Mastriano be removed from the ballot, citing Section 3 of the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution which forbids individuals who try to overthrow the federal government from holding elected office:

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.

Writing in The Nation on Monday, national affairs correspondent Jon Nichols recalled Mastriano's involvement in Trump's coup and that he "does not seem to be cooperating" with the bipartisan congressional commission tasked with investigating the deadly attack.

"Video from the event shows Mastriano crossing police lines outside the US Capitol," Nichols pointed out, although Mastriano "claims he did not physically enter the building." Nichols also noted that Mastriano's campaign is "employing alleged insurrectionists."

According to Nichols, one prominent watchdog organization has crafted a "compelling case" against Mastriano and has petitioned Pennsylvania Secretary of the Commonwealth Leigh Chapman to invoke the Insurrectionist Disqualification Clause, which was adopted after the Civil War, to constitutionally disqualify him from ascending to the highest political station in the Keystone State.

“Mastriano is an experienced military veteran who has studied and written on ‘hybrid warfare’ strategies that relies [sic] on ‘ambiguity’ and disinformation to create instability. Many of these strategies were used during the lead-up to and the execution of the January 6 insurrection,” Free Speech for People wrote in a recent letter to Chapman. “In other words, Mastriano was specifically aware of the consequences that his actions and Trump’s actions were likely to have on fomenting and guiding the insurrection and the Stop the Steal movement’s ongoing efforts to subvert the 2020 election.”

The group's senior counsel Courtney Hostetler added that “when Senator Mastriano engaged in the January 6 insurrection that threatened our democracy and put countless lives at risk, he violated the oath that he made to defend and protect the Constitution. Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment is clear: this disqualifies him from running for public office.”

This effort is not without its challenges. Two current members of Congress – Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Georgia) and Madison Cawthorn (R-North Carolina), both of whom expressed solidarity with Trump's attempt to overturn the 2020 election – have had their viabilities tested in court. But the presiding judges dismissed the filings against them.

Cawthorn lost his primary for reelection last week. Greene, meanwhile, will find out if voters intend on giving her a second term in the Peach State's Tuesday GOP primary.

Read the full article here.

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