By: Janice Mathis, NCNW General Counsel
If you listen to the news, you have probably heard that Section 3 of the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution has something to say about who can run for President of the United States. We want to break down this issue. You really don’t have to be a legal scholar to understand what’s at stake.
We now know that enslavement of people of African descent led to a civil war between the U.S. and the Confederate States of America. The 13th Amendment ended slavery. The 14th Amendment gave us due process and equal protection under the law.
But, that’s not all the 14th did. Section 3 of the 14th Amendment “prohibits anyone who has previously taken an oath of office from holding public office (in the future) if they have ‘engaged in insurrection or rebellion’ against the United States.”
In the 1860s, members of Congress were afraid the Confederate civil warriors would reorganize and resume the fight against the United States. The Civil War claimed the lives of 700,000 people. Who wants to go through that horror, just to see the people who lost the war try to take over the reconstructed government? So, we got section 3.
The main point is that the 14th amendment to the U.S. Constitution says that if you fight the government of the U.S., you can’t hold high elected office. Does that include President? Do you have to be convicted of insurrection? Or is it enough that you were acting in a way to keep the government from functioning properly? Should each state decide the issue, or should the Supreme Court take over? Watch the news. Make up your own mind. If you use violence, threats, put pressure on elected officials, or defame election workers to stop the government from operating, should you be allowed to hold the highest office in the land?
In the end, the people will decide. And that is the point of democracy.