What Is The 14th Amendment?

The 14th Amendment to the US constitution is best known as one of the most important documents in the history of race and the struggle for equality in the country. Cited often in discussions of Black history, the 14th Amendment, which was ratified in 1868, according to the History website, states that "all persons born or naturalized in the United States" should be guaranteed "equal protection of the laws." In so doing, it finally gave citizenship and legal rights to the approximately 3.9 million slaves who had been emancipated just three years previously. As such, the 14th Amendment now stands as a cornerstone of the ideal of racial equality, ensuring that such an ideal remains part of the very fabric of the United States' national identity. But despite the country's ongoing battle to achieve equality for all its citizens, the 14th Amendment has received attention from political analysts this week for another reason in the wake of the deadly events of January 6, 2021.

After "President Trump urged supporters to march to the Capitol as he repeated his false claims of voter fraud," according to the Wall Street Journal, and five people subsequently lost their lives in what many public figures have since condemned as "insurrection," politicians across the political spectrum have become increasingly vocal in their efforts to identify a mechanism by which to remove the President from office, a move that the majority of American citizens now support, according to Business Insider.

Attempts to remove President Trump from office

Two avenues by which President Trump might be ejected from the White House have gained many column inches since January 6. The first, derived from the 25th Amendment, is open to Trump's recently-estranged Vice President, Mike Pence, described as a "coward" by President Trump on the day of the insurrection, for the vice president's reluctance to attempt to block the Electoral College vote count formalizing Joe Biden as the President-elect, according to USA Today. The same outlet reports that, by invoking the 25th Amendment, "a vice president and a majority of the Cabinet [can] seize control [of the White House] from a president." But despite calls from figures including the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, for Pence to use the Amendment in such a way, the VP has failed to do so.

Pelosi herself has begun her own process toward ensuring Trump, whom the Speaker has described as "deranged, unhinged, [and] dangerous," according to the Boston Globe, is removed from office. Per Forbes, on January 11 Pelosi introduced articles of impeachment against Trump, giving him the dubious title of being the first President to be impeached twice.

Invoking the 14th Amendment to remove President Trump

Despite the growing consensus that Trump's actions before the storming of the Capitol building on January 6 amounted to incitement of insurrection, his second potential impeachment faces the same obstacles it did back in 2019: two-thirds of the Senate must back it, which, given that the Senate is held by the Republicans, would take a huge swath of the President's former supporters to turn against him for impeachment to pass.

CNN reports, however, that if impeachment fails, the 14th Amendment may be invoked. Why? Because of this passage from Section 3: "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."

CNN argues that the mechanism may be used to remove other culpable politicians from office as well, such as Republican Senators Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley.