Explainer: What is Section 3 of the 14th Amendment?

Dec 20, 2023, 5:00 PM | Updated: 6:22 pm

Former President Donald Trump speaks during a commit to caucus rally....

FILE - Former President Donald Trump speaks during a commit to caucus rally, Monday, Oct. 16, 2023, in Adel, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File)

(AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File)

SALT LAKE CITY — Tuesday marked the first time in history that a presidential candidate was disqualified from holding a public office by citing Section 3 of the 14th Amendment. 

The Colorado Supreme Court ruled in a 4-3 decision that Donald Trump is ineligible to serve as president again and removed him from the state’s 2024 election ballot due to his role in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack.

Donald Trump banned from Colorado ballot in historic ruling by state’s Supreme Court

How does Section 3 of the 14th Amendment permit this action by the Colorado court?

This section of the U.S. Constitution outlines what disqualifies an individual from holding office, according to the Constitution Annotated webpage.

Essentially, Section 3 of the 14th Amendment states that any individual who has participated in rebellion or insurrection against the United States or supported such activities is disqualified from holding certain public offices. 

The historical reason for the creation of Section 3 dates back to the American Civil War. According to the Library of Congress webpage, Section 3 of the 14th Amendment established consequences for those who rebelled against the U.S. during the war. 

There are four general steps to proceeding with disqualifying an individual under Section 3 of the Amendment. 

First, credible evidence or allegations that the individual engaged in rebellion or insurrection is needed. Second, there must be legal proceedings to determine the truthfulness of the allegations. Next, a state or federal court can decide if an individual is disqualified from holding a certain office. Lastly, proper authorities take steps to implement the disqualification. 

So, what’s next for former President Trump? 

Pat Shea, an attorney and former constitutional law teacher at the University of Utah told KSL NewsRadio that the former president is likely to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.


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Explainer: What is Section 3 of the 14th Amendment?