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I recall that in recent history, a certain Florida man who is seeking to run for the presidency of the United States for a second term was taken to court in Colorado under the premise that since this Florida man was an insurrectionist, he was not eligible to be placed on the ballots as a presidential candidate in the state of Colorado. The judge ruled that the Florida man was an insurrectionist, but did not rule that he must be removed from the ballot.

Section 3 of the 14th amendment reads:

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.

It could be argued that the Colorado judge, in ruling that the Florida man was an insurrectionist, but was eligible to remain on the presidential ballot, was providing aid or comfort to a known insurrectionist, and that as a result, her right to continue to be seated as a judge - a civil officer of the US - could be challenged.

Is this a correct interpretation of the provisions of section 3 of the 14th amendment? Could this Colorado judge be removed from office for failing to rule that a known insurrectionist not be permitted to hold or run for public office in the US?

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    Has anyone been charged with "insurrection"? Commented Jan 3 at 16:36
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    @Digitalfire The text says "engaged in insurrection", not "charged with insurrection" or "convicted of insurrection". A formal charge or conviction is not a condition for this clause to apply.
    – kaya3
    Commented Jan 4 at 0:46
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    Yes, the Florida man has a name, but it is not relevant to this question. Edit rolled back.
    – Monty Wild
    Commented Jan 4 at 3:48
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    @Negdo there are ways of proving things in court outside of criminal trials. Neither a conviction nor even a criminal charge is necessary for someone to be excluded from office because of the 14th amendment.
    – phoog
    Commented Jan 4 at 10:20
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    @Negdo No it isn't; a judge, acting in their judicial capacity as a finder of fact, can find that somebody engaged in insurrection ─ without a prosecutor, acting in their executive capacity, bringing charges against that person. And "convicted" implies a standard of proof (i.e. beyond reasonable doubt) which typically does not apply in civil cases. So the 14th amendment would have a substantially different meaning if it said "convicted".
    – kaya3
    Commented Jan 4 at 13:44

1 Answer 1

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Is this a correct interpretation of the provisions of section 3 of the 14th amendment?

No.

A good faith ruling on a disputed legal issue by a judge is not providing aid and comfort.

Can a judge be barred from office under the 14th amendment for offering aid and comfort to an insurrectionist?

Yes. Many judges were barred from office on this basis in the Reconstruction era. But, this was not for their good faith rulings in cases in the official capacities in non-Confederate courts.

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    Commented Jan 6 at 21:35

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