What to know about the 14th Amendment and efforts to remove Trump from the 2024 ballot


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CNN  — 

Anti-Trump challengers have succeeded at using the 14th Amendment’s “insurrectionist ban” to remove former President Donald Trump from the ballot in Colorado and Maine, though those decisions have been paused pending potential appeals.

Other major challenges have been rejected on procedural grounds in MinnesotaMichigan and some other states.

Although there wasn’t a formal court challenge in California, the state’s top election official decided Thursday to keep Trump on the list of certified candidates for the state’s GOP primary, despite political pressure to remove him.

Other challenges are still pending, including in Oregon, as the 2024 primary cycle approaches.

Here’s a breakdown of the complicated legal questions at play.

What does the 14th Amendment say?

The 14th Amendment, which was ratified after the Civil War, says US officials who take an oath to uphold the Constitution are disqualified from holding future office if they “engaged in insurrection” or have “given aid or comfort” to insurrectionists.

However, the Constitution does not spell out how to enforce the ban, and the vague phrasing has led to questions about whether it even applies to the presidency.

The amendment’s key provision, Section 3, says in part: “No person shall … hold any office … under the United States … who, having previously taken an oath … 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.”

Has this happened before?

The ban was used extensively to disqualify ex-Confederates in the late 1800s, but its application in contexts outside of the Civil War is less clear.

Congress used the 14th Amendment to disqualify a socialist lawmaker from office in 1919. In 2022, a New Mexico judge removed a convicted January 6 rioter from his position as a county commissioner based on the 14th Amendment.

In that case, the official had already been convicted of a January 6-related offense. Trump is facing state and federal charges related to the Capitol riot and his attempts to overturn the 2020 election – but he pleaded not guilty and hasn’t gone to trial yet.

When it comes to Trump, there hasn’t been a situation like this in American history. No US president has ever done anything that raised the possibility that they engaged in insurrection –- until now.

It is unprecedented to apply the 14th Amendment “insurrectionist ban” to any presidential candidate, let alone the clear front-runner for a major party nomination, as Trump is leading in the GOP polls.

What to know about the 14th Amendment and efforts to remove Trump from the 2024 ballot

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