What is the 14th Amendment? Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez continues to rally for removal of Donald Trump's allies

She is the latest House Democrat to suggest invoking Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, which bars elected officials who 'have engaged in insurrection or rebellion' against the United States

                            What is the 14th Amendment? Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez continues to rally for removal of Donald Trump's allies
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (Getty Images)

Democratic Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez suggested on Sunday, January 10, that Democrats were considering invoking the 14th Amendment to expel Republican lawmakers who had participated in efforts to overturn the results of the November election.

Ocasio-Cortez made the statement while discussing the possible impeachment of President Donald Trump and other efforts to respond to the storming of the Capitol on Wednesday, January 6. “This is not either the 25th Amendment or impeachment,” Ocasio-Cortez said on ABC’s 'This Week' adding, “We are looking towards multiple avenues, and I do not believe that those avenues are mutually exclusive.”

She is the latest House Democrat to suggest invoking Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, which bars elected officials who “have engaged in insurrection or rebellion” against the United States.

What is the 14th Amendment?

United States Constitution's Fourteenth Amendment (Amendment XIV) was adopted on July 9, 1868, as one of the "reconstruction amendments". It is one of the most significant amendments as it addresses citizenship rights and equal protection under the law and was introduced in response to issues related to former slaves following the American Civil War.

This amendment was bitterly opposed, particularly by the states of the defeated Confederacy, which were made to approve it in order to recover representation in Congress.

The first section of the amendment, is one of the most disputed parts of the Constitution, forming the basis for landmark Supreme Court decisions such as Brown vs Board of Education (1954) regarding racial segregation, Roe vs Wade (1973) regarding abortion, Bush vs Gore (2000) regarding the 2000 presidential election and Obergefell vs Hodges (2015) regarding same-sex marriage.

The amendment restricts the actions of all state and local officials, and also those acting on behalf of such officials. This amendment has a total of five sections:

Section 1 

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."

Section 2

Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed. But when the right to vote at any election for the choice of electors for President and Vice-President of the United States, Representatives in Congress, the Executive and Judicial officers of a State, or the members of the Legislature thereof, is denied to any of the male inhabitants of such State, being twenty-one years of age,* and citizens of the United States, or in any way abridged, except for participation in rebellion, or other crime, the basis of representation therein shall be reduced in the proportion which the number of such male citizens shall bear to the whole number of male citizens twenty-one years of age in such State.

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. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.

Section 4

The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. But neither the United States nor any State shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void.

Section 5

The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.

As soon as AOC's statement regarding this amendment hit the Internet, social media was abuzz. One user said, "Senator Ted Coups and Josh Hawley should absolutely be expelled under the 14th Amendment. They clearly encouraged insurrection and gave comfort and aid to America's enemies." Another wrote, "I just understand why these people have not been forced to resign. The 14th amendment is very clear."




A user said, "Hmmmmm 14th amendment section 3 was very interested to read. I should like to see it be put to use." Another wrote, "Publicly mentioning the 14th Amendment seems significant. An effort to expel Cruz & Hawley without needing a 2/3 majority in the Senate?"




Cori Bush wrote, "Tomorrow, I’m introducing my resolution to expel the members of Congress who tried to overturn the election and incited a white supremacist coup attempt that has left people dead. They have violated the 14th Amendment. We can’t have unity without accountability." Democrat Scott Dworkin wrote, "There are at least 6 GOP Senators who should not be seated. 14th Amendment says so. No traitors allowed."




One user demanded, "According to the 14th Amendment, Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley, and the rest of the Sedition Caucus should not hold a seat in Congress now, or for the rest of their traitorous lives. MAKE THIS HAPPEN."

American Constitution society's co-founder Laurence Tribe said, "The 14th Amendment Sec 3 idea LOOKS great, but I’ve concluded that it’s a murky and dangerous mirage. #ImpeachTrumpNow is by far the best path, and dangling the Sec 3 option as a backup could backfire badly. My advice to Congress: DON’T PURSUE THE 14th AMENDMENT Sec 3 path."




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