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Sacrificing the Constitution for Political Gain: A Critical Look at Actions Targeting Trump

Innocent until proven guilty is a fundamental right in America, but some anti-Trump groups are attempting to disqualify him as a presidential candidate. They are urging state election officials to remove him from the ballot by invoking an obscure clause in the 14th Amendment that pertains to individuals who engaged in insurrection against the United States. The problem is that Trump has never been convicted of insurrection, and none of his prosecutors are currently charging him with it. Despite having zero convictions and one acquittal, these groups, such as Free Speech For People, are pressuring state election officials to remove him from the ballot. This means that Trump would have to go to court and prove his innocence if he wants to be on the ballot, which goes against the American principle of innocent until proven guilty. This scheme is not only un-American, but it also poses a significant constitutional risk and could lead to chaos during the presidential primaries. Any attempt to remove Trump from the ballot would likely end up in the US Supreme Court. Free Speech For People President John Bonifaz has collaborated with Rep. Jamie Raskin, the lead manager in Trump’s second impeachment trial. The use of the “insurrection clause” by these anti-Trump groups is a desperate attempt to achieve what they failed to do constitutionally. It is concerning that even some Republicans are willing to label Trump an “insurrectionist” without legal evidence and disqualify him. The “insurrection clause” was originally included in the Constitution to disqualify Confederate officeholders and military leaders after the Civil War, but its effectiveness as a standalone disqualification has been challenged by Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase’s ruling in 1869. Despite attempts by anti-Trumpers to argue otherwise, Chase’s ruling remains federal precedent. The comparison to Eugene V. Debs, a socialist who ran for president in 1920 despite being convicted of inciting US Army personnel, highlights the inconsistency in using the insurrection clause selectively. Free Speech For People also failed to remove Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene from the ballot in Georgia using the insurrection clause. It is important to remember that while the events of January 6 were regrettable, they do not compare to the devastation caused by the Civil War. Removing Trump from the ballot based on this ploy is undemocratic and goes against principles of due process and the presumption of innocence. Instead of resorting to such tactics, anti-Trumpers should focus on winning voters over with their policies.

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