In the aftermath of the insurrection carried out by supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump at the U.S. Capitol last Wednesday — during which at least five people were killed — many are now wondering whether the Republication lawmakers who continued to support Trump’s various claims of election fraud, and galvanized his supporter base, should be held responsible.
Congresswoman Cori Bush and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi are among the leading voices calling for certain Republican lawmakers to be booted from their high-ranking positions for their continuous role in lifting up Trump’s false narrative, which directly led to the attempted coup. On the day after the attack, Pelosi specifically called for the removal of Trump from office, stating that he had “committed an unspeakable assault.” Again, in a press release on Sunday night, Pelosi reiterated that Trump was “incapable of executing the duties of his office.”
Bush echoed this, while also demanding that lawmakers who supported Trump be held responsible. “As a member of @HouseJudiciary, I am calling for the immediate impeachment of Donald Trump & his removal from office,” Bush tweeted the evening of the attack, before also declaring that “I’m also calling for the expulsion of @GOP members of Congress complicit in inciting the attack on our nation’s Capitol. Their actions must have consequences.”
“This coup attempt is white supremacy in action,” she continued hours later. “The Republican members who incited the attack on our U.S. Capitol by working to overturn the results of this election must be expelled from Congress.” On Sunday, she announced her resolution to expel Congressional lawmakers who attempted to overturn the election, saying that they “violated the 14th Amendment.”
Among those Republicans on the chopping block is, of course, Sen. Ted Cruz, who has stood by his claims — repeatedly — that Trump was the election’s true winner. But Cruz was among 147 Republicans who voted to overturn the electoral college votes, and a number of others who have similarly suggested serious action be taken to refute the election results.
That brings us to the 14th amendment, and how violating it could cost Republican lawmakers like Cruz their jobs. So, will Cruz and other Republicans really be eligible to lose their jobs in Congress because of this?
The short answer is: yes. While the 14th Amendment — which was passed in 1866 and ratified in 1868 — was created in response to former slaves receiving equal protection under law, sections within the Amendment are specifically for lawmakers. Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, referenced by Bush and in Pelosi’s press release, explicitly states that “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.”
Now, it comes down to other members of Congress, and the Justice Department, to follow through with holding Cruz and other responsible for inciting violence. As a reminder: The hundreds of demonstrators, among them Nazis and white supremacists, who carried out last week’s attempted coup did so under the guise that Trump’s claims of voter fraud and a stolen election were true. Republican lawmakers like Sen. Ted Cruz and Sen. Josh Hawley stood by Trump’s words, echoing his lies even after they were proven to be false over and over again. Because they engaged in some way in the aforementioned “rebellion,” they are — and should be — up for expulsion.
With Bush set to introduce her resolution today, Cruz would do well to wonder if his loyalty to the sinking ship that is Trump was worth his reputation and self-respect in the end.