Individuals from both sides of the political spectrum have recently argued that former President Donald Trump may find himself ineligible to appear on the 2024 ballot.
Some experts, however, believe this to be both an improbable and even danger-some opinion.
Legal theory states Trump may be barred from the ballot due to the Disqualifications Clause (14th Amendment, Section 3), which bars those who “have engaged in insurrection or rebellion” against the United States.
With a vote of two-thirds per chamber, however, Congress may also “remove such disability.”
The stability of the Disqualifications Clause argument has been challenged by experts, with the likes of George Washington University professor Jonathan Turley stating that while there “are good faith arguments in favor of this claim,” he sees it as “not simply dubious but dangerous.”
"We cannot unilaterally deny the voters the right to vote for their candidate of choice." — David Schoen on using the 14th Amendment to disqualify Donald Trump from the ballot in 2024@RobFinnertyUSA pic.twitter.com/OabTqgIOgo
— NEWSMAX (@NEWSMAX) September 5, 2023
According to Turley, “The amendment was written to deal with those who engage in an actual rebellion causing hundreds of thousands of deaths,” “Advocates would extend the reference to ‘insurrection or rebellion’ to include unsupported claims and challenges involving election fraud.”
Professor Turley has been known to criticize Trump’s speech on January 6, but he interprets the events of that day as “a protest that became a riot.”
“According to these advocates, Trump can be barred from the ballot without any charge, let alone a conviction, of insurrection or rebellion,” Turley stated.
Turley says these supporters “also argue that there is no action needed from Congress” and therefore “state and federal judges could just bar those who are deemed as supporting rebellion through their election challenges and claims.”
WATCH: There's a debate over whether the 14th Amendment could be used to keep Trump off the 2024 New Hampshire GOP primary ballot.@GovChrisSununu (R-N.H.) addresses the possibility: "I see no reason why he wouldn't be on that ballot.. .. It's not really a New Hampshire issue." pic.twitter.com/gqO8iMZBL3
— Meet the Press (@MeetThePress) September 3, 2023
Senior legal fellow Hans von Spakovsky of the Heritage Foundation believes the left is giving a similar argument as that made for several conservatives leading up to the 2022 midterm elections.
“They were all unsuccessful,” Von Spakovsky stated. “And every discussion that I’ve seen of this ignores the fact nobody ever mentions that they talk about Section 3 of the 14th Amendment as if it currently exists.”
Von Spakovsky clarified, “In 1872, they passed . . . the Amnesty Act, and it removed the Section three disqualification, with certain exceptions, including anybody who had served in two of the Congresses just before the Civil War, and members of the military, for example, who had been in the Union Army and had served the Confederacy.”
“In 1898, Congress passed a second amnesty act that completely got rid of all of those exceptions,” he said. “So the Disqualification Clause, it’s gone. It’s not valid anymore.”
The notion that there are still avenues to prevent Trump from making the 2024 ballot is still gaining traction among some legal scholars, despite the strong opposition.
“Following the plain language of the Constitution, Donald Trump and other officials who were involved in the January 6 insurrection are disqualified from holding future public office,” Center for American Progress Action Fund senior fellow Michael Sozan challenged. “This conclusion is supported by a wide range of respected constitutional law experts — across the ideological spectrum.”
“There are multiple paths to formally carry out Section 3 of the 14th Amendment. The most straightforward way is for state election officials to disqualify Trump from appearing on their state’s ballot. No doubt, this will be challenged in court — but if Supreme Court justices are serious about applying the Constitution’s plain words, they will agree with the disqualification.”
Fox News contributor Sol Wisenberg believes there “is a legal path for states to try to remove Trump from the ballot,” but “that it will fail.”
“I think the issue will make it to the federal courts, because it is likely that at least one Democratic state official will make the determination to take Trump off the ballot,” Wisenberg stated. “I believe the case will make its way fairly rapidly to the U.S. Supreme Court.”
Wisenberg added, “I expect the Court to hold that a Presidential candidate cannot be removed from the Presidential ballot without: 1) some sort of enabling legislation passed by Congress that sets up a judicial process for determining whether that candidate has engaged in insurrection or rebellion; and 2) an actual trial under said statute.”
“There is already one such statute, in place. It is Title 18 U.S. Code, Section 2383, covering rebellion or insurrection,” he continued.
Undoubtedly, there are states feeling pressure from the left to ban Trump from the 2024 ballot, but the likelihood of the success of this pressure is slim-to-none.