Congressional Black Caucus aims to ban Trump rerun
The argument made by the CBC is that, under the Constitution, his role in planning the insurrection and a coup at the Capitol disqualifies Trump from running for any office again. | AP

WASHINGTON—The Congressional Black Caucus is trying to revive a bill banning former Republican Oval Office occupant Donald Trump from seeking the White House—or just about any office above local dogcatcher—ever again.

In a fundraising e-mail, the CBC’s campaign finance committee asks for opinions on legislation, backed by several senators and introduced just after the Jan. 6, 2021 Trump-inspired insurrection and invasion of the U.S. Capitol, to invoke a little-used section of the Constitution to have Congress approve that ban, by simple majority votes.

“Will you add your name to our petition DEMANDING Congress invoke the 14th Amendment and BAN Trump from running for office again?” the CBC asked. The “petition,” gives recipients a “yes” choice or the option of leaving it blank.

“Do you personally believe Trump should be banned from office forever?” it later asks, with a “yes” “no” or “unsure” option.

The CBC bases its demand for the lifetime ban on Trump seeking office on Section 3 of the post-Civil War 14th Amendment, which states ratified in 1868.

It states “No person” shall be a lawmaker, a presidential elector “or hold any office, civil or military under the United States, or under any state, who, having previously taken an oath” to support the Constitution “shall have engaged in insurrection and rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof.” Congress intended it to apply to former Confederate leaders, such as Jeff Davis.

By silence, the Constitution lets Congress invoke that ban by simple majorities in both Houses, but openly says the ban “can be removed” only by two-thirds majorities, the same requirement for Senate conviction on impeachment charges.

The CBC’s move comes just weeks before the House Select Committee probing the attacks plans to resume hearings in May on the insurrection, this time focusing on the actions of Trump (and his high-up staffers) whom at least one panel member, Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., a constitutional law professor on leave, flatly—again—termed a “coup.”

“This was a coup organized by the president against the vice president amd against the Congress in order to overturn the 2020 presidential election,” Raskin told National Public Radio, NBC, Reuters and The Guardian.

“We’re going to tell the whole story of everything that happened,” he promised. Raskin credited then-Vice President Mike Pence with a key decision on the morning of January 6, by a public announcement that he refused Trump’s demand to throw out electoral votes of key swing states, thus nullifying Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s victory. The violent insurrection disrupted the vote count for hours.

But while the panel focused on the past, the senators, the CBC and—among others—former Labor Secretary Robert Reich are focusing on the future, and on ensuring Trump can’t run for president, or anything else, in 2024, as he repeatedly threatens to do.

The proposal to invoke the 14th Amendment first arose just after the coup try, died down, but has been resurrected this year, as Trump continues to play kingmaker among Republican candidates—even in primaries—and even as top-heavy majorities of party officeholders and hopefuls kowtow to him by repeatedly endorsing his lies that the 2020 election was stolen. Those lies prompted the invaders and insurrectionists.

But the 14th Amendment plan has also set off a debate among constitutional scholars, especially since it’s been used only twice—and not against the Confederate leaders after the South lost the Civil War, either.

Instead, the victim, both times, was Socialist Victor Berger, elected twice to the U.S. House from Milwaukee, in 1916 and 1918. Lawmakers banned him for opposing U.S. entry into World War I, Wikipedia noted. Both times, the House invoked the amendment and refused to seat Berger. City voters kept electing him, anyway, and the House finally relented and seated Berger when they elected him a third time, after the war.

Donald Trump | Evan Vucci/AP

Harvard constitutional law professor Laurence Tribe told The Hill several lawmakers, including Raskin, had consulted him about using the constitutional amendment to ban Trump’s future runs. A pro-democracy group, Free Speech For People, sent letters to every top state elections official, citing the 14th amendment, demanding they ban Trump from their primary and general election ballots, in advance.

Yale Law School professor Bruce Ackerman and University of Indiana law professor Gerard Magliocca also advocated using the amendment against Trump in a Washington Post op-ed in January 2021. The impeachment charge, based on Trump’s coup attempt, the House lodged against Trump later that month, also cited the provision and imposed such a ban. Raskin led the House prosecution team.

Raskin and his colleagues won a 57-43 Senate majority, with seven Republicans joining all 48 Democrats and both independents in voting to convict Trump. But it needed 67 votes, so it failed in the 50-50 Senate. Ten House Republicans, including Reps. Liz Cheney, R-Wyom., and Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., defied the Trump tide and voted to impeach him. Both, plus Raskin, sit on the nine-person House investigating committee.

Meanwhile, the 14h amendment will be resurrected, in Atlanta on Friday, in a hearing involving one of Trump’s most-incendiary—and extremist—supporters, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga.

John Bonifaz, FSFP’s president, tweeted on April 18 that “We just won a federal court ruling in Atlanta allowing Georgia voters to challenge Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene as disqualified under Sect. 3 of the 14th Amendment, the Insurrectionist Disqualification Clause.”


Mark Gruenberg
Mark Gruenberg

Award-winning journalist Mark Gruenberg is head of the Washington, D.C., bureau of People's World. He is also the editor of the union news service Press Associates Inc. (PAI). Known for his reporting skills, sharp wit, and voluminous knowledge of history, Mark is a compassionate interviewer but tough when going after big corporations and their billionaire owners.