CREW filed an amicus brief with the Minnesota Supreme Court asserting that Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment is self-executing, meaning it requires no federal legislation to take effect and is enforceable through Minnesota state law, following Free Speech for People’s claim challenging Donald Trump’s constitutional eligibility to serve as president and appear on Minnesota’s ballots.
In the wake of the Civil War, Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment added a qualification for office stating that no one may hold state or federal office after swearing an oath to the Constitution and then engaging in insurrection against it. The qualification was designed to protect American democracy against those who broke their oaths to the Constitution.
Both the Fourteenth Amendment’s text and Supreme Court precedent confirm that Section 3 is self-executing and can be enforced without federal legislation. Under the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution, state courts must enforce Section 3 where state law allows, and historically state courts have done exactly that. The Supreme Court has also consistently held the substantive provisions of the Reconstruction Amendments—including the Fourteenth Amendment—to be self-executing. Supreme Court precedent also makes clear that congressional action cannot be required to activate Section 3.
Minnesota’s Supreme Court has the power and duty to adjudicate this Section 3 claim under state law challenging Trump’s constitutional eligibility to serve in office.