May 31, 2023

Keeping Insurrectionists from Holding Office

In the two years since the January 6th insurrection, 950 people in nearly all 50 states and the District of Columbia have been arrested for their role in the attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. More than half have pleaded guilty or been convicted of felonies. We have also seen several attempts—some successful and some unsuccessful—to use Section 3 of the 14th Amendment to keep elected officials who participated in that unprecedented attempt to subvert democracy from holding office. Known as the Disqualification Clause, Section 3 provides an avenue to disqualify anyone who took an oath to support the Constitution of the United States and then engaged in or encouraged insurrection or rebellion against the United States from holding federal or state office.

How can this provision of the Constitution, adopted as part of the Reconstruction Amendments, be used to prevent insurrectionists from getting on the ballot or holding office today? How do we address concerns about overturning the will of voters and about activities protected by the First Amendment? What are the challenges to realizing the potential power of the Disqualification Clause?

Join ACS and a panel of experts who will consider the potential and pitfalls of using the Disqualification Clause to redress this shameful moment in our recent history.

Introductory Remarks:

Russ Feingold, President, American Constitution Society


Floyd Abrams, Senior Counsel, Cahill Gordon & Reindel LLP

Prof. Sonia M. Gipson Rankin, The University of New Mexico School of Law

Prof. Gerard Magliocca, Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law

Nikhel Sus, Senior Counsel, Complaints and Litigation, Citizens for Responsibility & Ethics in Washington


Praveen Fernandes, Vice President, Constitutional Accountability Center