A new study authored by two legal scholars from the arch-conservative Federalist Society makes the case that former President Donald Trump is constitutionally ineligible to hold future office due to his role in the January 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.
William Baude and Michael Stokes Paulsen, both conservatives, support an "originalist" interpretation of the Constitution. In their study published by the University of Pennsylvania Law School, they argue that Trump violated Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, known as the "Insurrection Clause," by breaching his oath of office to defend the Constitution.
The insurrection clause states that, "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."
Baude and Paulsen join a growing chorus of legal experts, including a retired conservative judge, who agree with this interpretation. In a piece for Just Security, Yale management professor Jeffrey Sonnenfeld says the consensus view of experts across the political spectrum is that Trump could be disqualified from office regardless of any criminal prosecution, based on a plain reading of the Constitution.
Sonnenfeld says Trump's Republican primary challengers have the strongest standing to pursue Trump's disqualification in court. "This Wednesday, the Republican primary candidates should stop simply complaining about Trump's candidacy and take legal action on behalf of our nation," he wrote. "Such demonstrated leadership would be appreciated by many voters as a sign of character, conviction, and courage. We heard from the legal scholars, now let's hear from the political leaders."
Unfortunately, Trump's Republican primary challengers are more interested in being Trump's Vice President than they are in saving democracy.