The Conspiracy to Overthrow the Government of the United States

The attornery-general of Maine has joined the Colorado Supreme  Court in ruling that the name of Donald Trump may not be put on the ballot.  The justification is article three of the Fourteenth Amendment:

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.

For many reasons, these decisions are invalid, but the most important reasons cannot be cited, because time has sanctioned the abuses of the Amendment.  Nonetheless, as constitutional scholars as distinguished as Raoul Berger and Forrest McDonald have explained, the amendment was not properly passed: It failed to receive the necessary majority in Congress, Southern states were blackmailed, and new states added to make the tally.

But, since the amendment was universally accepted, what does it actually say?  It forbids former U.S. officials from becoming senator, representative, president or vice-president, if they had taken part in the Civil War, here described as “insurrection or rebellion.”  Even the ill-educated and dishonest Democrats who are concocting this conspiracy against Trump cannot say that the January 6 rioters were engaged in a rebellion against the United States, and, while they do use the word insurrection, it is only because they prefer not to know what the word means in English.  Compared with BLM and Antifa demonstrations, the troubles on January 6 were caused by deluded hooligans.

But, supposing the rioters were out to overthrow the government and set up a dictatorship, and, further suppose that we believe Donald Trump was complicit in the conspiracy, the Federal government would still have to go throw the motions of setting up a Kangaroo Court that would indict and try him.  So far, their lead kangaroo Jack Smith has not gone that far.

Confederate officers who had been pardoned for their actions hardly needed a trial:  Their “guilt” was manifest, but Donald Trump, even if he had plotted an insurrection against the government, would still be able to be elected President until such time as he is indicted, tried, and convicted of treason.

The trial would have to be a Federal trial, because the alleged crime is against the United States.  In such a case then, the opinions of attorneys-general and state Supreme Courts is entirely irrelevant.  This is made clear by the wording of the amendment that restricts the pardoning power to the Congress.  Within the terms of the amendment, one might well expect the jurisdiction for any case against Trump would in fact be the Congress and not any tribunal managed by the hirelings of the executive branch.

But do not mistake my meaning.  There most definitely is a conspiracy to overthrow the government of the United States, and that conspiracy, in its more benign phases, has been managed by legislatures and courts that have deliberately set aside the rule of law.  Now, they are taking the further step, so popular in other banana republics, of attempting to silence and even jail an opposition candidate. 

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Thomas Fleming

Thomas Fleming is president of the Fleming Foundation. He is the author of six books, including The Morality of Everyday Life and The Politics of Human Nature, as well as many articles and columns for newspapers, magazines,and learned journals. He holds a Ph.D. in Classics from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and a B.A. in Greek from the College of Charleston. He served as editor of Chronicles: a Magazine of American Culture from 1984 to 2015 and president of The Rockford Institute from 1997-2014. In a previous life he taught classics at several colleges and served as a school headmaster in South Carolina

6 Responses

  1. John Bernhard Thuersam says:

    I cannot help but giggle at the irony of all this. Today’s Republicans, whose political ancestors enacted the evil 14th Amendment, are now threatened with being hoisted by their own petard.

  2. Raymond Olson says:

    This may be the Democrats’ fatal move in keeping the White House, even if they succeed in gaining both houses of Congress. It will take four more years of executive-branch chaos (which there is a vanishingly slim chance may include some beneficial developments) to compel enough of the electorate to forsake Republicans forever. Whether Democrats will learn anything is another matter.

  3. Robert Geraci says:

    What good can possibly come out of the federal government anymore? Wars and allying itself with not such nice friends, clamping down on the military industrial complex?, digital currency, a debt that cannot be arithmetically paid down but which keeps being added to exponentially anyway, a total hoax of a covid vaccination program (Trump’s doing by the way), a war on and replacement of carbon based fuels by that which harm the environment more in their totality and the elimination of human caused emissions of carbon which are less than significant; and a fact that the earth needs all the carbon it can get, an open border policy which is already changing the demographics of this country, a destruction of all cultural and academic standards to appease multicultural goals, a destruction of a human understanding of gender which was always part of the boilerplate of mankind, a generation of young people who could not possibly tell you what the four cardinal virtues are given the egocentric lives they live, the same generation who couldn’t care less about getting married and having children? Need I go on? Does it really matter anymore what Maine or anyplace else does?

  4. William Shofner says:

    The solution to resolving mounting disputes is and has always been, in these states united in America, secession. We were magnificently successful in our first war of secession conducted from 1775 and into 1783, but tragically less so in the 1861-65 conflict. Needless to say, no one with any judgment wants yet another bloody war of independence, although it appears to be in our DNA. I suggest , if not stoutly appeal, to every thinking American that we separate the blue states from the red states, allow the red states to join hands together and encourage the blues to do the same, and encourage each of these states united to go along their merry way; each of the purple states can fall in with the red states or the blue states or curse both their houses and piece together their own confederacy.

    Will Americans assume such a reasonable stance here? Highly, highly, highly unlikely; again, bloody wars are in our DNA.

  5. Avatar photo Thomas Fleming says:

    If, as Mr. Jefferson (who knew his people perhaps better than any American politician since) was correct in declaring that the tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants, then, Wes, the prospect of bloody war is only the second worst possible future. To expect the current lot Americans to embrace liberty, even to the point of changing out of pajamas to go to the supermarket, is probably as naive as expecting secession. This is a country that thinks a few thousand freaks in D.C. constitutions an insurrection.

  6. Clyde Wilson says:

    The 14th is a lie. Among other reasons. Confederates who had taken an oath to support the Constitution never took an oath to support the usurpative creation of a national government that trashed the Constitution. The Republicans transformed support of the Constitution into insurrection for refusing to support a minority party in charge of the government machinery.