The Department of Justice must take action in prosecutions of individuals for crimes relating to the January 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol to bar those who took an oath to uphold the Constitution from holding public office, according to a letter sent today by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, known as the Disqualification Clause, bars anyone who has previously taken an oath as a state or federal official to support the Constitution and then engaged in insurrection or given aid or comfort to insurrectionists from holding state or federal office. 

Enforcing the Disqualification Clause in plea negotiations and at sentencing is a crucial opportunity to hold government officials who participated in the insurrection accountable for their actions. Section 3 of the 14th Amendment applies to both elected and unelected federal and state officials who took an oath to support the Constitution. 

“Section 3 of the 14th Amendment can and should be used to bar anyone who engaged in the insurrection after swearing to support the Constitution from seeking or holding office,” said CREW President Noah Bookbinder. “This provision will not enforce itself. The Department of Justice must take concrete steps to prevent those who attacked our Constitution after swearing an oath to uphold it from being in a position to violate public trust again.”

The term insurrection here includes a “rising against civil or political authority” that is in “opposition to the execution of the laws of the United States” and defies “the authority of the United States,” which certainly describes January 6th. Under the Constitution, those who violated their oath and participated in January 6th must be barred from public office for life. 

“It’s time for us to get serious about protecting our democracy,” said Bookbinder. “The DOJ must take action to stop, by all means available under the law, those who broke their oath to support our Constitution from being entrusted with public office again.”

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