So it’s California and it’s – once again – stupid.
This time, a gaggle of state legislators have asked the egregious state Attorney General Rob Bonta to keep Donald Trump off of the March primary ballot.
The leges seem a bit unclear as to how that would be done, but are adamant since Trump violated the 14th amendment he should not be allowed to run for president.
And – given his track record of filing absurdly political lawsuits against school boards and oil companies, and if Bonta can find a way to both try to do it and not hurt his chances in his expected 2026 governor’s campaign, he will.
Disclosure – I am not an attorney so here is the first actual attempt to keep Trump off of a ballot, and the more general “reasoning” explained for balance.
But what the “reasons” ignore is actual history. The law does not operate in a vacuum, hence the arguments sounding somewhat like those for climate change: “here is our data and it doesn’t matter that we said the medieval warming period didn’t exist even though we knew it did because we have first-person and government records in writing about it.”
In case you were wondering, during that time period what was then France put a tariff on red wine imports from Wales – not known currently as an oenological hot spot. Additionally, towns that were once coastal no longer are – all climaholics have to do is look at a map – because the sea level used to be higher, which climate change says is not really possible.
In other words, facts beyond the narrow silo of an “expert” exist that cannot be discounted.
At issue is the post-Civil War constitutional amendment that, in part, reads as follows:
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.
Anti-Trumpers maintain that since the events of January 6th were in fact an insurrection and that Trump caused it so as to block the legitimate peaceful transfer of power he is personally barred from holding federal office.
While the argument is wrong – literally – that will most likely not stop Bonta or any one of a handful of other attorneys general from trying.
Why is it wrong?
First, the events of January 6th were not an insurrection attempt. They were wrong and stupid and the greatest gift ever given to the Deep State and the Democrats, but they did not constitute an insurrection. When you try to overthrow the government, you tend not make sure to wrap it up in time to get back to the hotel for dinner.
Second, to say Trump solely caused the riot is also not true. One could make the argument that former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi “caused” it because she point-blank refused to beef up Capitol security that day, thereby allowing bad actors to run wild, or that the FBI “caused” it via its encouraging (?) embedded intelligence operatives.
Third, Trump has not been found guilty of a crime…yet. Therefore the idea is legally premature and the position taken by those in favor that “we all know it was an insurrection and he did it so he doesn’t need to get a trial” is not quite – at least for the time being – how the American justice system works.
Fourth, read the clause again – it says “elector of President,” not “president.” May seem like splitting hairs, but they’re really different. As to “officer,” even that is muddy as many legal scholars equate that with appointed personnel. Finally, Congress is specifically called out for the ban, but the presidency is not. So even if ever gets to court it will most likely not fly (unless, of course, that court is in the District of Columbia.)
Fifth, even you twist yourself into believing Trump cannot serve as president, it does not in any way, shape, or form bar him from running for the office. That would be a gross and obvious violation of his first amendment rights…oh, wait…
Sixth, to argue that insurrectionists are not allowed to serve in the federal government is patently false. Not too long after the Civil War, Confederate soldiers were signing up for the U.S. Army and Confederate veterans began serving in – wait for it – Congress. In fact, dozens of former Confederates – and not just privates but high officers – served in the House and Senate, no problem (after the end of Reconstruction, Congress did for a time refuse to seat certain Confederate veterans and officials but that did not last too long and it certainly did not bar them from running for – winning – elections.)
The last Confederate veteran to serve in Congress was Charles Manly Stedman of North Carolina, a major on Gen. Robert E. Lee’s staff – seriously – and he held his seat until 1930. And he was a typical southern Democrat racist, by the way, pushing to erect a “Mammy Memorial” statue on Washington. And yes, it really means what you think it means: a statue honoring mammies because, as Stedman put it: “The traveler, as he passes by, will recall that epoch of southern civilization [when] fidelity and loyalty” prevailed. No class of any race of people held in bondage could be found anywhere who lived more [freely] from care or distress.”
Here’s the mock up:
If Black Lives Matter started a hundred years earlier, they would have had a point. Even in 1923, though, enough people said “Holy Shit, that’s Racist!” to stop the project.
So, if people who signed up to specifically go shoot people as part of an intentional rather widely advertised meticulously planned actual insurrection called the Civil War were allowed to serve in Congress, I’m pretty sure that sets a precedent that obviates any attempt to use the 14th amendment to keep Trump from running for president – and serving if he wins.
All that being said, it is unknown if Bonta will file suit but it is absolutely known that any suit filed anywhere will end up in front of the Supreme Court.
And when the court tosses it, there will be much wailing and gnashing of teeth and rending of garments and demands to obliterate the Supreme Court as it has stood from its inception…or at least since Marbury Vs. Madison in 1803.
I think that’s precedent enough.
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