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The modern Democrat Party has an unhealthy fetish for the 14th Amendment, one of the three post-Civil War constitutional amendments. Democrats are constantly and relentlessly trying to rewrite it to accommodate their political ends.
A few months ago, Joe Biden and his party insisted that Section 4 of the 14th Amendment granted the president power to unilaterally increase the debt ceiling, which would destroy Congress’s sole power under Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution to tax, spend, and borrow. Of course, Section 4 of the 14th Amendment does no such thing, and there is nothing in the history of the amendment that supports such an interpretation. Here’s the relevant language:
The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. But neither the United States nor any State shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void.
As I explain in my new book, “The Democrat Party Hates America,” nobody was challenging the validity of the debt. Second, the language is specific to Civil War-related debt. Third, the language says nothing about fundamentally altering the way the federal government raises revenue or pays debt. Fourth, to repeat, the language and legislative history in no way support the proposition that the core power of Congress was replaced or repealed. Fifth, the language does not and was never intended to abolish separation of powers, which is core to our constitutional system. The proponents of this absurdity would have turned Biden into a bigger dictator than he already is. But none of this mattered to the proponents. They seek power at any cost.
If the Democrat Party, their media, and their academicians cannot rewrite the Constitution by interpretation, then they argue for abolishing it altogether and replacing it with a more “relevant” document — that is, a document that ensures their monopoly power and destroys our founding principles. After all, how many times have they told us that the Constitution was written by slaveholders, perpetuates racism and inequity, and is illegitimate?
The same kind of fraudulent approach is now before us with respect to Section 3 of the 14th Amendment. Here is the text that these constitutional saboteurs, in the name of the Constitution, are desperately and cravenly insisting prevents former President Donald Trump from effectively running for a second presidential term.
No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice-President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.
You need not be an aging retired judge, washed-up former law professor, or NeverTrumper academician to notice that the word “president” cannot be found in this text. So, why would the amendment’s drafters, adopters, and ratifiers all exclude the word “president” from the text but include virtually every other form of officeholder, federal and state, elected and appointed, in the text? Did they forget to add the word “president”? Or could the reason possibly be that they did not want to include the word “president” and, therefore, intentionally did not? Of course, there is nothing anywhere that even suggests the drafters, adopters, or ratifiers intended otherwise. It took two NeverTrumper law professors (members of the Federalist Society no less), joining the Democrat Party mob, over 125 pages to try to convince us that by omitting the word “president,” not only did the drafters, adopters, and ratifiers intend to include the president, but the proper interpretation of the amendment and its construction and application make it undeniable and clear.
In fact, so clear are these professors and their ilk that we are supposed to intuit the intention of the drafters, adopters, and ratifiers by, among other things, the words “as an officer of the United States.” Thus, this phrase, we are told, should be read to include the word “president.” Therefore, there was no need to single out by name the most powerful and important governmental official in the entire country. Consequently, the argument goes, of course the president was intended to be included in the amendment by general reference to “officer.” Any why not? After all, the local South Carolina county commissioner was not specifically mentioned either.
This is preposterous. For most people, the absurdity is self-evident. Indeed, if they intended to include the president, you’d think he would not only be mentioned but that he’d be at the top of the list of officials included in the text. In fact, they even mention “elector of President and Vice-President,” but not the president himself.
Moreover, what does the phrase “shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against [the United States]” mean? If you are going to bar the leading Republican candidate for the presidency from even appearing on a state ballot, thereby disenfranchising untold numbers of citizens who would like to vote for him, and potentially alter the course and outcome of a presidential election, there should be some definitive way to know what this phrase means and who gets to make that decision. Obviously, as the 14th Amendment is one of the so-called Civil War amendments, we know what was meant when the amendment was ratified — engaging in insurrection or rebellion on behalf of the Confederacy and against the Union, aka the Civil War. It wasn’t very difficult to figure out who did or did not engage in such activities or what was meant by insurrection or rebellion. They didn’t need law professors or members of the Democrat Party — the party of the Confederacy — to tell them. But did the drafters, adopters, and ratifiers intend Section 3 to apply beyond the death of the last Confederate?
Of course, there’s no evidence that it did, other than the wishful meanderings and self-serving declarations of the proponents. Strangely, however, if that was the true intention and purpose, the amendment doesn’t provide any guidance on how these decisions would be presented and resolved in the case of a presidential candidate or president. I say strangely because at the Constitutional Convention, the framers spent a great deal of time debating and working through the way we elect presidents. They came up with the Electoral College system. It didn’t take long until it was evident that even that process needed some adjustment. Hence, the 12th Amendment to the Constitution. If, in 1868, the drafters, adopters, and ratifiers of the 14th Amendment intended it not only to apply to a presidential candidate or president but knew it could upset the presidential election process, why did they say absolutely nothing about it?
For example, how is it determined whether a presidential candidate or president engaged in an insurrection or rebellion against the United States when he has not been charged with, let alone convicted of, such offenses? You won’t find the answer in the 14th Amendment. That would seem to be an essential question in need of a definitive answer. Did the men behind Section 3 intend that a presidential candidate be barred from a state ballot based merely on accusations? And accusations from whom? The media? Democrat Party officials, operatives, and litigators? Academicians? NeverTrumpers? In fact, the second impeachment trial against President Trump fell well short of the number of senators needed to convict him for the events of January 6. As a result, he was not barred under Article I, Section 3 of the Constitution from “hold[ing] and enjoy[ing] any office of honor, trust or profit under the United States.” If anything, there was a constitutional adjudication in Trump’s favor.
Indeed, on January 4, 48 hours before the so-called January 6 insurrection, President Trump offered to call up 10,000 National Guardsmen to protect the Capitol Building and Congress during the official Electoral College count. The Democrat speaker, Nancy Pelosi, and the D.C. Democrat mayor refused the offer. These facts are intentionally ignored by the Biden regime’s special counsel, as they were by the Democrat Party’s so-called January 6 Committee. And they ignore it because a president clearly is not engaged in an insurrection or rebellion when he offers thousands of armed troops to do precisely the opposite.
Moreover, does any serious scholar believe that the post-Civil War Congress was so committed to preserving federalism that it would have written an amendment giving a single state the power to upend a federal presidential election? Would that Congress have believed when it was drafting and adopting Section 3 that it was granting power to a state official, say, a secretary of state or attorney general, to unilaterally bar a leading presidential candidate from the state’s ballot, thereby possibly affecting the outcome of a national election? Or, for that matter, even a state legislature? No way. Indeed, the post-Civil War Congresses were mostly hostile to states’ rights. Several Southern states remained occupied military territories until they capitulated to the demands of the federal government.
Putting aside all the issues raised previously, one can only imagine the Pandora’s box this would open. It was not opened by the drafters, adopters, and ratifiers of the 14th Amendment. It is being opened by the modern-day saboteurs of the Constitution.
This entire movement is a vile assault on the electoral process directed at a single individual: Donald Trump. There is absolutely no constitutional basis for it. However, if it somehow succeeds, the implications will live far beyond today. We are left not with the rule of law but the rule of men – and in this case, the rule of Democrat Party officials and operatives and their academic allies. The party of the Confederacy once again seeks to nullify the federal Constitution and the nation’s electoral system, disenfranchise tens of millions of voters nationwide, and push the country toward its breaking point, from which we may never recover.
It's worth remembering that the Democrat Party and its surrogates are a power-hungry lot. They are also driving other dangerously illegitimate and self-serving attacks on our voting system.
How many times have we heard from Democrat politicians, academics, media, and activists that the Electoral College should be abolished, that it is a racist system set up by white slaveholders to perpetuate racism, etc.? Of course, this is another anti-American lie. The purpose of the Electoral College is, among others, to ensure that all parts of the country have a say in the election of a president and vice president, not just the most populous areas, and to prevent mob rule by way of unchecked majoritarianism. Thus, the Electoral College is an institutional block on the Democrat Party’s efforts to monopolize our voting system, since the most densely populated areas of the nation are run by Democrats.
The Democrat Party is behind another unconstitutional scheme that seeks to disenfranchise tens of millions of Americans, specifically Republican voters – the so-called National Popular Vote movement. It involves an interstate compact in which states agree in advance of actual voting to assign their Electoral College votes to the candidate who nationally receives the largest number of popular votes – even if that candidate loses the popular vote in their own state. The NPV is only triggered once enough states reach the 270 majority under the Electoral College system. So far, the states that have joined the compact hold 196 electoral votes. They’re getting close.
The Democrat Party is also relentlessly attempting to nationalize state voting systems to empower itself and destroy any meaningful opposition from the Republican Party. The Democrat Party dressed up this tyranny as a civil rights effort. It was introduced in the House by Nancy Pelosi as H.R. 1, the first bill to be considered by the new Democrat majority. It would have effectively eliminated state voter ID laws, make it virtually impossible to clean up voter registration lists, instituted online registration throughout the country, virtually eliminated protections against absentee ballot fraud, provided for taxpayer funding for congressional candidates, attacked political speech by individuals and groups, etc. Vladimir Lenin called it “democratic centralization.”
This is the party, and these are the people (with cover from some odd-thinking professors, et al.) who are organizing around a twisted fiction for banning Trump from the ballot and disenfranchising his would-be voters in advance of an election.
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Mark Levin is the host of “LevinTV” and co-founder of Blaze Media.