What is the 14th Amendment and what does it say?


Cases in Colorado and other states argue that Section 3 of the 14th Amendment prevents Donald J. Trump from becoming president again because, they argue, he incited supporters who stormed the Capitol nearly three years ago.

The central questions are whether Section 3 applies to the presidency; whether Trump's behavior before and during January 6, 2021 constituted “engaging in an insurrection or rebellion against” the Constitution; and whether election officials or courts can deem a person ineligible without specific congressional action identifying that person.

The Colorado Supreme Court ruled that the answer to all of these questions was yes, but other courts disagreed. The U.S. Supreme Court will likely have the final say.

Section 3 of the 14th Amendment says:

No person may be a Senator or Representative in Congress, nor an elector for President and Vice President, nor hold any office, civil or military, in the United States or in any State, who, having previously taken the oath, as a member of Congress, or as officer of the United States, or as a member of any State Legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, in support of the Constitution of the United States, shall have participated in an insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to his enemies. But Congress can, by a two-thirds vote of each House, eliminate that disability.

Constitutional experts have emphasized in interviews with The New York Times that the answers are neither simple nor obvious.

In an academic article, conservative law professors William Baude and Michael Stokes Paulsen concluded: “It is unquestionably fair to say that Trump 'participated' in the January 6 insurrection by both his actions and inaction.”

Others have argued otherwise, with law professors Josh Blackman and Seth Barrett Tillman saying in a recent draft that they saw “no solid basis” for Baude and Paulsen's conclusions.

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