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What is the 'Disqualification Clause,' and how can it be used against members of the House and Senate?

This little-known clause of the U.S. Constitution could be used as a punitive measure on Capitol Hill.

ATLANTA — The 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution, and more specifically, the "Disqualification Clause," is being eyed as a measure on Capitol Hill in connection with members of the House and Senate accused of acts of sedition or insurrection.

The amendment is being floated as a means of preventing former President Donald Trump from running again, should he be convicted by the Senate during his upcoming impeachment trial. The amendment could also be used to potentially expel members of Congress.

The 14th Amendment was added to the Constitution following the Civil War. Its primary purpose was to grant citizenship to all people born in the United States and guarantees "equal protection under the law" to all citizens of the nation. 

However, Section 3 of the amendment -- the "Disqualification Clause" -- prevents anyone who has "engaged in insurrection or rebellion against" the United States from becoming a senator, representative, or to "hold any office, civil or military." 

It 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."

This also allows Congress to vote to strip any individual of their capability of being a member or being capable of running for office.

The original intent of the section was to prevent former members of the Confederacy to regain power in the government after receiving a presidential pardon. 

Many political analysts have said that the Disqualification Clause could be used as a punitive measure against several members of Congress following the insurrection against the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. 


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