--US Constitution, 14th Amendment, §3
This reads as if it were written with coup leader Donald Trump in mind. However, the problem is the language of Section 5 of the 14th Amendment: The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.
There is no current legislation on the books that provides for enforcement of the disqualifying language of Section 3. Absent such legislation and despite his thus far failed attempts to overthrow the government, Donald Trump is free to run for and serve as president even if he is convicted of his numerous alleged crimes and finds himself in prison.
The nightmare of Trump back in office must be avoided at all costs. He came close to destroying the country his first time as President. If he is re-elected, then the survival of our democracy may not even be a close call. The American experiment could be over.
However, what is also relevant is language from the 1st Amendment:
Congress shall make no law…abridging the right of the people…to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
--US Constitution, 1st Amendment
We the people can invoke our 1st Amendment right to petition Congress for a redress of grievances. And what bigger grievance can there be than the threat of a second act of Trump’s horror show?
There is precedent for invoking this 1st Amendment right. The earliest nationally organized petition drive dates back to 1830 (a generation before ratification of the 14th Amendment). Harriet Beecher Stowe and other women leaders unsuccessfully petitioned Congress to stop the removal of Cherokee Indians from their ancestral lands. The most significant petitions were ones submitted in the 19th and early 20th centuries by women seeking the abolition of slavery and later the right to vote. The latter played a significant role in the women’s suffrage movement right up until passage of the 19th Amendment in 1920.
What is needed is a petition signed by tens of millions of Americans in which we ask Congress to invoke Section 5 and declare Trump ineligible for office.
The petition could be offered both online and door-to-door. It should shun sponsorship by any politically affiliated organizations.
I do not have any experience doing anything like this. I hope that some of my readers do, and would be willing to take the initiative to get this started.
It would likely require 60 votes in the U.S. Senate to bar Trump from running. The current lineup of 51 Democrats plus the four remaining Republicans out of seven who voted to impeach him following his failed coup d’état would be five votes short. We would also have to pick up at least four Republicans in the House. Daunting challenges, admittedly, but a worthwhile endeavor.
No one who did what Trump has done should ever be permitted anywhere near the presidency. A drive unprecedented in the number of signatories and coincident with the many indictments seeking to hold Trump accountable for his many criminal misdeeds may not induce Congress to act, but could have a major impact on public opinion as the election approaches. For that reason alone, it is worth the attempt.
August 11, 2023