Monday August 21, 2023
The popularity of urban legends is a testament to the will to believe. The desire of people to keep Elvis alive or prove that a Sasquatch could exist furtively in our backyards shows the resilience of fables.
Constitutional urban legends often have an even more immediate appeal and tend to arise out of the desperation of divided times. One of the most popular today is that former President Donald Trump can be barred from office, even if he is not convicted in any of the four indictments he faces, under a long-dormant clause of the 14th Amendment.
This 14th Amendment theory is something that good liberals will read to their children at night. It goes something like this: Donald Trump can never be president again, because the 14th Amendment bars those who previously took federal oaths from assuming office if they engaged in insurrection or rebellion. With that, and a kiss on the forehead, a progressive’s child can sleep peacefully through the night.
But don’t look under the bed. For as scary as it might sound to some, Trump can indeed take office if he is elected…even if he is convicted. Indeed, he can serve as president even in the unlikely scenario that he is sentenced to jail.
Democrats have long pushed this theory about the 14th Amendment as a way of disqualifying not only Trump but also dozens of Republican members of Congress. For some, it is the ultimate Hail Mary pass if four indictments, roughly 100 criminal charges and more than a dozen opposing candidates fail to get the job done.