Amdt14.S3.1.1 Disqualification Clause

Fourteenth Amendment, Section 3:

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.

The right to remove disabilities imposed by this section was exercised by Congress at different times on behalf of enumerated individuals.1 In 1872, the disabilities were removed, by a blanket act, from all persons except Senators and Representatives of the Thirty-sixth and Thirty-seventh Congresses, officers in the judicial, military and naval service of the United States, heads of departments, and foreign ministers of the United States.2 Twenty-six years later, Congress enacted that the disability imposed by section 3 . . . incurred heretofore, is hereby removed.3

Footnotes

  1.  Jump to essay-1E.g., and notably, the Private Act of December 14, 1869, ch.1, 16 Stat. 607.
  2.  Jump to essay-2Ch. 193, 17 Stat. 142.
  3.  Jump to essay-3Act of June 6, 1898, ch. 389, 30 Stat. 432. Legislation by Congress providing for removal was necessary to give effect to the prohibition of § 3, and until removed in pursuance of such legislation persons in office before promulgation of the Fourteenth Amendment continued to exercise their functions lawfully. Griffin’s Case, 11 F. Cas. 7 (C.C.D.Va. 1869) (No. 5815). Nor were persons who had taken part in the Civil War and had been pardoned by the President before the adoption of this Amendment precluded by this section from again holding office under the United States. 18 Op. Att’y Gen. 149 (1885). On the construction of engaged in rebellion, see United States v. Powell, 27 F. Cas. 605 (No. 16079) (C.C.D.N.C. 1871).