CNN clash over Trump and the 14th Amendment is cringey, but informative

With 2024 rapidly approaching, Section 3 of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is taking center stage as desperate liberals and those afflicted with Trump Derangement Syndrome scramble to prevent the GOP primary frontrunner from once again challenging President Joe Biden for the White House.

Things got heated on Wednesday between CNN senior legal analyst Elie Honig and “never-Trumper” attorney George Conway, as the duo argued over the meaning of Section 3 on “The Source with Kaitlan Collins.”

The critical clause reads as follows:

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.


To Conway, any arguments against disqualifying former President Donald Trump are “bogus” — including the one made by Honig.

(Video: YouTube)

“All the arguments that I have seen against disqualification are bogus, like the one which my friend Elie just mentioned,” Conway said. “He suggested the only way that Section 3 of the 14th Amendment could be enforced is through an act of Congress. That’s just not true. There’s nothing in Section 3 that says that. There’s nothing that says that in the other provisions of the 14th Amendment.”

“If it were true,” Conway continued, “that would mean that if Congress repealed tomorrow all of the civil rights acts that were enacted from the time of the Civil War through the ’60s to the present, that would mean under Section 1, that Section 1, which prohibits race discrimination, that would mean that states could immediately start re-segregating their schools and there would be no way to enforce it. That’s just not the law.”

Ironically, Section 1 of the 14th Amendment states, in part: “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

And the point Conway wants Americans to forget is that Donald Trump has not been charged with insurrection, let alone been convicted of it.

“I mean really, the arguments are pathetically weak, and unless somebody comes up with something better, the Supreme Court is going to have a very difficult time avoiding the consequence of the plain language of the 14th Amendment,” he stated.

Honig countered with Section 5 of the 14th Amendment, which plainly reads: “The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.”

“I agree with original George here, where he started off,” he replied. “There is language on this specifically in the 14th Amendment. Everyone’s talking about Section 3, which is very important. It says if an officer engages in insurrection or gives comfort to enemies of the country, he’s disqualified. Great. But Section 5, two sections ahead, says Congress shall have the power to pass legislation to enact this amendment.”

“So has Congress done that? No,” he said, adding, “It doesn’t say Congress shall have the power or states can.”

And that’s when Conway got testy.

“That’s nonsense. Elie, that’s just complete nonsense,” he argued. “You don’t need Congress to tell you to follow the Constitution no more than you need Congress to tell you to follow the Section 1’s prohibition in the 14th Amendment that says that you can’t put black kids in a different school.”

The mental gymnastics didn’t impress Honig.

“I’m not following that analogy whatsoever,” he said.

“It’s just not that hard, Elie,” Conway snapped back. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“This says Congress shall have the power–” Honig responded.

“Elie. Elie. Elie. You know better,” the condescending Conway stated. “You read the provision. That provision applies to Section 1 as well. Your logic would mean that courts– that states could engage in race discrimination tomorrow if all the civil rights statutes were gone. It’s just nonsense, Elie, and you know better.”

“Not at all,” Honig countered. “That’s not what it means. It says ‘Congress shall have the power.’ You’re trying to add in states.”

“It’s nonsense, Elie,” Conway insisted. “It’s not an argument. It’s not a serious argument, Elie. I’m sorry, it’s not a serious argument.”

“You’re speaking in conclusory terms,” Honig replied. “You’re not addressing the actual issue.”

Conway became so flustered, he called Honig by the wrong name.

“No, I’m not speaking– You’re the one speaking in conclusory terms, Elliot! Elliot, I made a– I mean, Elie,” he ranted.

“This is pretzel logic,” Honig stated.

“You are filibustering,” he said as Conway tried to talk over him.

“Take it as a given that Donald Trump engaged in insurrection,” Honig conceded. “The amendment is clear. You want to talk text? Section 5 is clear: Congress has the power. What you are trying to do is read into it.”


Melissa Fine


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