During an appearance on MSNBC’s “Deadline,” retired federal judge J. Michael Luttig asserted that the U.S. Constitution presents a disqualification for former President Donald Trump to hold the office of the presidency. Luttig’s comments came as part of a discussion about the implications of Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, which addresses the disqualification of individuals who have engaged in rebellion or insurrection against the United States.
Luttig highlighted that the U.S. Constitution employs a mix of broad and specific language to outline both the limits on government power and the rights of American citizens. He drew attention to the specific provisions within the Constitution that define qualifications for the presidency, such as the requirement that the president be at least 35 years of age.
In Luttig’s view, the disqualification provision outlined in Section 3 of the 14th Amendment is particularly explicit and clear. This section addresses the prohibition of individuals who have “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” from holding certain public offices unless pardoned by Congress. Luttig emphasized that this provision applies unmistakably to the former president and his role in the events of January 6.
While Luttig acknowledged that the application of Section 3 of the 14th Amendment is evident, he noted that the Supreme Court might need to address more technical constitutional questions. For instance, the Court might need to determine whether the clause is self-executing and which specific officials have the authority to challenge the qualification of the former president.
Luttig further predicted that secretaries of state in multiple states might opt not to place the former president on the ballot for future elections, asserting that he is unqualified based on the provisions of Section 3 of the 14th Amendment. This potential move could initiate legal and constitutional debates surrounding the disqualification and its enforcement.
The conversation surrounding Section 3 of the 14th Amendment underscores the complexity of constitutional interpretation and its potential impact on political and electoral processes.