The 14th Amendment granted citizenship and equal rights to African Americans, but an obscure section of the amendment may be used to challenge former President Donald Trump if he decides to run for another term in the White House in 2024.

Section 3 of the 14th Amendment states that “No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice-President, or hold any office … who, having previously taken an oath… shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof.”

The passage is currently being used by North Carolina voters who filed a lawsuit against North Carolina Rep. Madison Cawthorn in an effort to prevent him from running for reelection. The lawsuit states that Cawthorn played a “substantial” role in the Jan. 6 Capitol riots last year by giving a speech at a rally that morning.

Section 3 was originally included to block former military and federal officers from the Confederacy from trying to run for office after the war. The caveat was that the rule could be broken with two-thirds Congressional approval.

It could be a challenge to use the Disqualification Clause because it does not provide structure on how to implement it.

“It is unclear what is required to keep someone out of office,” said Brian Kalt, a law professor at Michigan State University. “Some say that Congress would have to pass legislation declaring the insurrection to be covered under the amendment. Others say that a court could find the facts. Still, others say that the last word would go to the House in voting whether or not to seat a winning candidate.”

The Republicans’ refusal to label the Jan. 6 riots as an insurrection remains another potential hurdle.

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