In an unprecedented move, 25 renowned historians, professors, and legal experts have presented a compelling argument to the U.S. Supreme Court, citing historical precedents to advocate for former President Donald Trump’s removal from the 2024 ballot. Their amicus brief supports a December ruling by the Colorado Supreme Court, which found Trump ineligible for office due to his involvement in the January 6, 2021, insurrection, as reported by The Messenger.
Drawing parallels with historical figures like Jefferson Davis, leader of the Confederacy, the brief emphasizes that the insurrection clause in the U.S. Constitution disqualifies individuals from holding office once they engage in insurrection, noting that Section III of the Fourteenth Amendment “executes itself” to impose automatic disqualification.
Trump and his legal team are set to counter these claims on February 8 at the U.S. Supreme Court, arguing that he did not partake in insurrection and does not meet the definition of an “officer of the United States” as outlined in Section III.
The amicus brief meticulously examines congressional debates and interpretations of the insurrectionist clause over centuries, highlighting its application to significant historical events, including the impeachment of Andrew Johnson and the case against Jefferson Davis. The authors argue that Section III was crafted to encompass a broad range of individuals, including the President, to serve as a perpetual safeguard against insurrection, necessitating no further action from Congress.
This stance is further supported by referencing Jefferson Davis’s own defense during his treason indictment, where he claimed automatic disqualification under Section III, a position acknowledged by then-Chief Justice Salmon Chase, albeit with subsequent differing views.
The brief delves into the impeachment of Andrew Johnson, asserting that decision-makers explicitly recognized the President as a constitutional officer, subject to disqualification under Section III. It also revisits a debate between Senators Reverdy Johnson and Lot Morrill, clarifying that the President is indeed covered by Section III.
Amid ongoing discussions about Trump’s potential nomination for the 2024 GOP, despite his unique position as the only former president facing criminal charges, the historians’ brief underscores the constitutional intent to prevent individuals involved in insurrection from corrupting the government.