Prominent conservative legal scholars are increasingly raising a constitutional argument that 2024 Republican candidate Donald Trump should be barred from the presidency because of his actions to overturn the previous presidential election result.
The latest salvo came Saturday in The Atlantic magazine, from liberal law professor Laurence Tribe and J. Michael Luttig, the former federal appellate judge and a prominent conservative who’s become a strong critic of Trump’s actions after the election.
Not all in the legal community agree – and what the scholars are proposing would need to be tested in court.
Yet Luttig and Tribe’s writings capture a conversation about the Constitution and the 2021 insurrection that is likely to grow heading into the 2024 election season.
They and others base their arguments on a reading of part of the 14th Amendment, a post-Civil War provision that excludes from future office anyone who, previously, as a sworn-in public official, “engaged in insurrection or rebellion … or [had] given aid or comfort to the enemies” of the government.
The pair write: “Having thought long and deeply about the text, history, and purpose of the Fourteenth Amendment’s disqualification clause for much of our professional careers, both of us concluded some years ago that, in fact, a conviction would be beside the point.
“The former president’s efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election, and the resulting attack on the U.S. Capitol, place him squarely within the ambit of the disqualification clause, and he is therefore ineligible to serve as president ever again.”