“Congress should use its constitutional power to prohibit instigators and perpetrators of last week’s violent siege of the Capitol, including President Trump, from holding public office ever again.
On Monday, House leaders introduced an article of impeachment against the president for “inciting violence against the government of the United States,” an obligatory action, given the gravity of the president’s transgression. But this is not the only route for ensuring accountability. The Constitution has another provision that is tailor-made for the unthinkable, traitorous events of Jan. 6 that goes beyond what impeachment can accomplish.
Emerging from the wreckage of the Civil War, Congress was deeply concerned that former leaders of the Confederacy would take over state and federal offices to once again subvert the constitutional order. To prevent that from happening, Congress passed the 14th Amendment, which in Section 3 bars public officials and certain others who have “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” against the Constitution from serving in public office. Although little known today, Section 3 was used in the post-Civil War era to disqualify former rebels from taking office. And, in the wake of perhaps the boldest domestic attack on our nation’s democracy since the Civil War, Section 3 can once again serve as a critical tool to protect our constitutional order.”