Saturday, November 18, 2023

"If the President Does It, It's Not Illegal. No, Really."

(By American Zen's Mike Flannigan, on loan from Ari)
Sarah B. Wallace's ruling that Trump is exempt from Article Three of the 14th Amendment is not only ridiculous and a counterintuitive reading of it but it's also theoretically dangerous. If it isn't swiftly struck down on appeal, it could set a precedent that could prejudice the cases and investigations of the other 20 states that are currently looking into whether Trump should be on their respective ballots. 
    To say that the highest office holder in the land, the president, the one who's most entrusted with safe-guarding the constitution, the person who wields the most power in the country, isn't beholden to the 14th Amendment, is fallacious. Because all indications are that he's ready, willing and able to do it again the next time he doesn't get his way.
     Because what Wallace seems to be saying is, "Yes, Donald Trump engaged in an insurrection that killed nine people, a riot that nearly overthrew the government and overturned the results of a free and fair election, But he was the president and he was free to violate his oath to defend the Constitution. It sucks but, hey, what're ya gonna do?"
     Essentially, she seems to subscribe to Nixon's belief of, "If the president does it, it's not illegal." It's that "divine right of kings" of which the Founding Fathers wanted to divest us back in the 18th century. And the 14th Amendment, including its now well-known Article Three, was written right after a Civil War that nearly destroyed or sundered our nation in half. 
     That suddenly, first ever relevant Article Three states, in full:
    "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."
    It was ratified on July 9th, 1868 by the 40th Congress to weed out Confederate sympathizers from holding elected office. It was bitterly opposed by the Senators and Congressmen who'd left the federal government in the recently-defeated Confederacy. However, if they wanted elected office in Washington again, they were essentially forced to vote for the amendment.
    In my opinion, even a schoolboy reading of the 14th Amendment, including Article Three, never mentions the president and my interpretation is the 40th Congress didn't do so because they felt they didn't need to. If you're not going to hold the Chief Executive accountable for crimes (and it was during that 40th Congress in which Andrew Johnson was nearly impeached), then what's the point of having a 14th Amendment?
 A Narrow Reading

Judge Wallace's ruling, which is certainly up for some spirited debate and very subject to being overturned by the Colorado appellate courts and, ultimately, the CO Supreme Court, employs a razor-thin definition of Article Three. If it doesn't specifically mention the president, she seems to argue, then the president is not subject to that Amendment.
   But on Inauguration Day, the president doesn't take an oath of office to defend some of the Constitution but all of it. The presidential oath of office is slightly different from that taken by Senators, Congressmen and other federal officials. There's more than an inference we can take that in taking that presidential oath of office, the president doesn't get to pick and choose which parts of the Constitution he will defend from all enemies, foreign and domestic (and I think we can also safely infer Trump miserably failed on both counts) any more than he has line item veto powers.
   People on the left have been crowing that this is indeed a victory because Judge Wallace also admitted that Trump did indeed engage in insurrection on January 6th, 2021. But it's not as simple as that.
   The ballot eligibility challenge in Colorado, brought by four Republican voters and two non-affiliated ones, was not a trial to determine whether or not Trump was indeed guilty of insurrection (which wouldn't be within the legal purview of a state court, anyway. That's what Jack Smith is for.). The ballot eligibility litigation was a civil matter, not a criminal one, meaning Trump stood no risk of jail time whatsoever.
    And the fact that for the first time ever he was found guilty of committing insurrection on January 6th will not, nor should not, be used a precedent by Jack Smith or anyone else. The proceedings in Colorado was not intended to be an exhaustive enumeration of evidence of Trump's guilt but to present enough evidence to the court to show that Trump was ineligible for the Colorado ballot. In other words, Trump was not on trial- his eligibility was.
     That's not the legal precedent we should be worried about.
    The one we should be worried about is the possible domino effect coming from Wallace's ruling. Perhaps this will influence other judges, especially right wing judges in those 20 other states, that perhaps Article Three really doesn't apply to Trump, after all. That maybe the guy who wields the most power in the nation should also be the one least expected to use it wisely.
     Which, obviously, is as insane as Trump and his supporters.


Post a Comment

<< Home

KindleindaWind, my writing blog.

All Time Classics

  • Our Worse Half: The 25 Most Embarrassing States.
  • The Missing Security Tapes From the World Trade Center.
  • It's a Blunderful Life.
  • The Civil War II
  • Sweet Jesus, I Hate America
  • Top Ten Conservative Books
  • I Am Mr. Ed
  • Glenn Beck: Racist, Hate Monger, Comedian
  • The Ten Worst Music Videos of all Time
  • Assclowns of the Week

  • Links to the first 33 Assclowns of the Week.
  • Links to Assclowns of the Week 38-63.
  • #106: The Turkey Has Landed edition
  • #105: Blame it on Paris or Putin edition
  • #104: Make Racism Great Again Also Labor Day edition
  • #103: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Toilet edition
  • #102: Orange is the New Fat edition
  • #101: Electoral College Dropouts edition
  • #100: Centennial of Silliness edition
  • #99: Dr. Strangehate edition
  • #98: Get Bentghazi edition
  • #97: SNAPping Your Fingers at the Poor edition
  • #96: Treat or Treat, Kiss My Ass edition
  • #95: Monumental Stupidity double-sized edition
  • #94: House of 'Tards edition
  • #93: You Da Bomb! edition.
  • #92: Akin to a Fool edition.
  • #91: Aurora Moronealis edition.
  • #90: Keep Your Gubmint Hands Off My High Pre'mums and Deductibles! edition.
  • #89: Occupy the Catbird Seat/Thanksgiving edition.
  • #88: Heil Hitler edition.
  • #87: Let Sleeping Elephants Lie edition.
  • #86: the Maniacs edition.
  • #85: The Top 50 Assclowns of 2010 edition.
  • #(19)84: Midterm Madness edition.
  • #83: Spill, Baby, Spill! edition.
  • #82: Leave Corporations Alone, They’re People! edition.
  • #81: Hatin' on Haiti edition.
  • #80: Don't Get Your Panties in a Twist edition.
  • #79: Top 50 Assclowns of 2009 edition.
  • #78: Nattering Nabobs of Negativism edition.
  • #77: ...And Justice For Once edition.
  • #76: Reading Tea Leaves/Labor Day edition.
  • #75: Diamond Jubilee/Inaugural Edition
  • #74: Dropping the Crystal Ball Edition
  • #73: The Twelve Assclowns of Christmas Edition
  • #72: Trick or Treat Election Day Edition
  • #71: Grand Theft Autocrats Edition
  • #70: Soulless Corporations and the Politicians Who Love Them Edition
  • Empire Of The Senseless.
  • Conservative Values for an Unsaved World.
  • Esquire's Charles Pierce.
  • Brilliant @ Breakfast.
  • The Burning Platform.
  • The Rant.
  • Mock, Paper, Scissors.
  • James Petras.
  • Towle Road.
  • Avedon's Sideshow (the new site).
  • At Largely, Larisa Alexandrovna's place.
  • The Daily Howler.
  • The DCist.
  • Greg Palast.
  • Jon Swift. RIP, Al.
  • God is For Suckers.
  • The Rude Pundit.
  • Driftglass.
  • Newshounds.
  • William Grigg, a great find.
  • Brad Blog.
  • Down With Tyranny!, Howie Klein's blog.
  • Wayne's World. Party time! Excellent!
  • Busted Knuckles, aka Ornery Bastard.
  • Mills River Progressive.
  • Right Wing Watch.
  • Earthbond Misfit.
  • Anosognosia.
  • Echidne of the Snakes.
  • They Gave Us a Republic.
  • The Gawker.
  • Outtake Online, Emmy-winner Charlotte Robinson's site.
  • Skippy, the Bush Kangaroo
  • No More Mr. Nice Blog.
  • Head On Radio Network, Bob Kincaid.
  • Spocko's Brain.
  • Pandagon.
  • Slackivist.
  • WTF Is It Now?
  • No Blood For Hubris.
  • Lydia Cornell, a very smart and accomplished lady.
  • Roger Ailes (the good one.)
  • BlondeSense.
  • The Smirking Chimp.
  • Hammer of the Blogs.
  • Vast Left Wing Conspiracy.
  • Argville.
  • Existentialist Cowboy.
  • The Progressive.
  • The Nation.
  • Mother Jones.
  • Vanity Fair.
  • Citizens For Legitimate Government.
  • News Finder.
  • Indy Media Center.
  • Lexis News.
  • Military Religious Freedom.
  • McClatchy Newspapers.
  • The New Yorker.
  • Bloggingheads TV, political vlogging.
  • Find, the next-best thing to Nexis.
  • Altweeklies, for the news you won't get just anywhere.
  • The Smirking Chimp
  • Don Emmerich's Peace Blog
  • Wikileaks.
  • The Peoples' Voice.
  • CIA World Fact Book.
  • IP address locator.
  • Tom Tomorrow's hilarious strip.
  • Babelfish, an instant, online translator. I love to translate Ann Coulter's site into German.
  • Newsmeat: Find out who's donating to whom.
  • Wikipedia.
  • Uncyclopedia.
  • Icasualties
  • Free Press
  • YouTube
  • The Bone Bridge.
  • Powered by Blogger