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Wed Apr 7, 2021, 10:41 AM

The 14th Amendment gives us tools that haven't been used in over a century

Radical Republicans Reach Out From the Grave: Congress Must Expel Some Members and Punish States

Four days after President Donald Trump and several members of Congress incited an angry mob to attack the Capitol and overturn an election he’d lost by over 7 million votes, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi sent a note to her Democratic colleagues.

She called for Vice President Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment, to begin a new impeachment process, and wrapped the memo up by saying “Your views on the 25th Amendment, 14th Amendment Section 3, and impeachment are valued as we continue.”

Pence ignored her call on the 25th Amendment (which would’ve allowed him and a majority of Trump’s Cabinet members to remove Trump from office) and the House moved quickly to impeach Donald Trump for the second time, an effort that succeeded in the House but failed in the Senate.

So, to hold Trump and his elected cronies accountable for their traitorous act on that day — and their seditious attempts since then to change election laws in state after state to make it harder for largely Democratic voters to have their votes counted — we’re left with the 14th Amendment.

Three amendments were passed after the Civil War to end slavery (except when a person has been convicted of a crime), establish equal protection under the law, punish insurrectionists, and establish the right of formerly enslaved people to vote. These are the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments.

They were written and pushed into law by the Radical Republicans, a group of anti-enslavement legislators who emerged as the country’s main power brokers after the Civil War.

They were led in the House by Representative Thaddeus Stevens, a former Massachusetts lawyer who defended Black escapees from the South trying to gain their freedom, and in the Senate by Charles Sumner, who’d been the victim of a vicious cane attack on the floor of the Senate by South Carolina’s Preston Brooks in 1856 over the issue of slavery.

The 14th amendment, ratified in 1868, establishes, in it’s first section, birthright citizenship and demands that all Americans be treated equally under the the law (an explicit effort to end the Black Codes).

Its second and third Sections, however, are the most intriguing in this context.

Section 2 eliminated the 3/5ths provision in the Constitution, noting that “Representatives shall be apportioned among the several states according to their respective numbers…”

But there was a gotcha in there for states that continued to deny formerly enslaved people the right to vote.

It’s second sentence says “But when the right to vote at any election… is denied to… Citizens of the United States, or in any way abridged… the basis of representation therein shall be reduced in proportion which the number of such… citizens shall bear to the whole number of… Citizens … in such state.”

In other words, if a state won’t let, say, a third of their citizens vote in elections, they lose a third of their seats in the House of Representatives.

With appropriate enabling legislation, this could provide a basis for requiring states that past restrictive voting laws that disenfranchise measurable portions of their electorate to forfeit some of their members of Congress.

It’s a large stick that has never been swung in the history of our republic.

Section 3 is even more explicit about the members themselves.

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.

In other words, if you took an oath of office and then “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” or gave “aid or comfort” to other insurrectionists, you will be expelled from the House or Senate.

Based on this, Representative Cori Bush introduced a resolution the day after Nancy Pelosi’s memo, joined by a number of her Progressive Caucus colleagues (including Rep. Mark Pocan), asking the House Committee on Ethics to determine whether any of the actions taken by House members in support of Trump’s sedition, “should face sanction, including removal from the House of Representatives…”

There’s also a public call to use that section of the 14th Amendment to prevent Donald Trump from running for any sort of elected office in the future.

Following the passage of the 14th Amendment, until the collapse of reconstruction in 1876, Section 3 was used this way on multiple occasions, including to block elected Sheriffs from holding their seats or running for office.

At the moment, there’s no specific law on the books that provides details, in the modern era, for how Sections 2 or 3 of the 14th Amendment would be enforced. (Congress blew up its ability to do this with the Amnesty Act of 1872.)

But section 5 of the 14th Amendment clearly gives Congress the authority to pass such a law or laws that would give teeth to this Amendment: “The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.”

While the Department of Justice and Congress are sorting out who among its members may have participated in this traitorous insurrection, Congress should also be preparing and passing legislation to enforce Sections 2 and 3 of the 14th Amendment.

Given how extraordinary an act of insurrection is (it’s only happened twice in our history), this new legislation should empower the House and Senate, with simple majority votes, to both bar insurrectionists like Trump from running for office in the future, as well as removing those members who gave “aid or comfort” to the insurrectionists.

Unleash the 14th Amendment!

So far, not a single elected Republican at the federal level has been held accountable for their complicity in Donald Trump‘s treason, although much of it was conducted in public and is still a badge of honor for some. The more time passes, the more difficult it will be to hold them to account.

Congress needs to act now.

Original post with hotlinks to sources: HartmannReport.com

18 replies, 2450 views

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Response to thomhartmann (Original post)

Wed Apr 7, 2021, 10:54 AM

1. The PROBLEM

"“But when the right to vote at any election… is denied to… Citizens of the United States, or in any way abridged… the basis of representation therein shall be reduced in proportion which the number of such… citizens shall bear to the whole number of… Citizens … in such state.”

You'll never get agreement on the measurement of voter suppression.
Sure, cutting the voting hours et al. will depress vote totals but determining how many votes deterred will be a free for all.

Focus on making voting so easy that suppression becomes virtually impossible.
Look to conservative Utah which has universal mail in voting, working flawlessly for about 20 years.

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Response to Pantagruel (Reply #1)

Wed Apr 7, 2021, 11:05 AM

5. I like the idea of a law

that makes it so if you are not allowed to vote or your vote is not counted, you will be exempt from paying taxes until the next election. No taxation with out representation was a principle this nation was founded on.

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Response to multigraincracker (Reply #5)

Wed Apr 7, 2021, 11:21 AM

7. In either case, it starts a public discussion

which may get into the network media, which would be a good thing. Whether it's a debate about the level of suppression, the right to deny Reps being seated, or taxes. All good because the discussion will hlghlight the voter suppression... IMHO...

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Response to multigraincracker (Reply #5)

Wed Apr 7, 2021, 01:17 PM

13. "Taxation without representation is tyranny" was a great Revolutionary War slogan

... which apparently didn't make it into the Constitution, as anyone who's lived in D.C. can attest.

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Response to Pantagruel (Reply #1)

Wed Apr 7, 2021, 01:31 PM

16. "Undue burden" arguments before courts must be proven as a form of "denial" of the right to vote.



Just because some states use workarounds to legislated suppression, doesn't mean the constitutional argument shouldn't still be made on behalf of all Americans.

This is the hill autocrats and dark money want to die on, and so the enlisting of pro-democracy corporations has to work to beat them in their war's final battle, once and for all.

When corporate donors can get 10 or more Republicans to vote for S1, this might not have to be a future fight against these legal flankings.

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Response to thomhartmann (Original post)

Wed Apr 7, 2021, 10:57 AM

2. Yes, we definitely need to make the safeguards work. Expedite investigations.

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Response to thomhartmann (Original post)

Wed Apr 7, 2021, 11:04 AM

4. Interesting! Bookmarking

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Response to thomhartmann (Original post)

Wed Apr 7, 2021, 11:16 AM

6. K&R and THANK YOU !!! For posting slavery in the US is still TO THIS DAY legal

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Response to thomhartmann (Original post)

Wed Apr 7, 2021, 11:35 AM

8. those congress critters who signed off on the az lawsuit to overturn the 2020 election results ,

along with those states attorney generals whom signed it too should all be removed . if legal eagles , disbarred and banned from practicing law ever again. reality. will never happen.

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Response to thomhartmann (Original post)

Wed Apr 7, 2021, 12:13 PM

9. Among Hartmann's nuttier ideas

And that's saying something.


Where to begin?

- No such law is going to get passed
- Removing a seat from GA does more to disenfranchise that same audience than anything in the legislation GA just passed did.
- Removing one or more seats from the state means that GA needs to draw new lines. Guess who gets to do that? The lost representative(s) could easily be Democrats
- Hyperbole is sometimes a useful tool... but pretending that the GA voting changes rise the the level of actually denying people the right to vote is a huge stretch.

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Response to FBaggins (Reply #9)

Wed Apr 7, 2021, 01:35 PM

17. He's not nutty at all, imo. And it's not a stretch.

He's right about the outcome that GA Repubs are working toward, or they wouldn't be doing it -- to deny without it looking like denial, is the trick of passing 'undue burden' election process laws. It's a variation of what they've done since the original Jim Crow, and Stacey Abrams knows it.

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Response to thomhartmann (Original post)

Wed Apr 7, 2021, 12:22 PM

10. K & R

Must read

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Response to thomhartmann (Original post)

Wed Apr 7, 2021, 12:24 PM

11. All MALE Citizens the right to vote. The 14th Amendement gendered the constitution.

The 15th affirmed the franchise would not be denied based on "race." (theoretically)



But you knew that.


And if you didn't:

https://www.womenshistory.org/resources/general/14th-and-15th-amendments



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Response to thomhartmann (Original post)

Wed Apr 7, 2021, 01:07 PM

12. House & Senate need to get started on some laws right now.

Time is short - we won't hold majorities if we don't block the voter suppression. We invite more attacks if we don't expel those who gave aid and comfort to the insurrectionists.

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Response to thomhartmann (Original post)

Wed Apr 7, 2021, 01:20 PM

14. I think Dems will deploy this evidence and angle when most propitious

Could be leading up to the midterms. Use the evidence in election campaign, then expeditiously expel them after. Win-win, bing-bam-boom!

The evidence tying participants to the insurrection, even those who simply contributed and enabled, won't go away. So don't let it be forgotten.

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Response to thomhartmann (Original post)

Wed Apr 7, 2021, 01:27 PM

15. Bookmarking!

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Response to thomhartmann (Original post)

Thu Apr 8, 2021, 04:27 PM

18. K&R. Another keeper - as usual.

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