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Guest Opinion

U.S. Supreme Court must defend our Constitution from Donald Trump


If you attack the Constitution you swore to protect, you cannot serve in public office again.

This is common sense, codified in Section 3 of the 14th Amendment — and it is why Donald Trump should be barred from the ballot in Colorado and prevented from seeking the presidency.

I served in the U.S. House of Representatives as a member of the Republican Party for six terms. On Jan. 5, 1993, and five more times at the start of each term, I swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States.

I understood at those moments that it was the words of the Constitution itself that form the rock upon which our freedoms and rights depend. Throughout my tenure, I had the honor of certifying four presidential elections.

The first election I certified, the 1992 presidential election, was won by Democrat Bill Clinton. Clinton and I were members of different parties and had different opinions on how best to govern.

I did not vote for him, but the American people voted to elect him. So, in accordance with my oath of office, I joined the rest of the 103rd Congress in certifying the election. To think that I would not have done so was unimaginable.

But in 2021, the idea was more than imaginable to members of my party still serving in Congress, and most importantly, to Donald Trump. For weeks, Trump had spun a lie that Vice President Mike Pence could overturn the election results based on unfounded conspiracy theories and goaded his base with claims of a stolen election.

He urged his supporters to come to Washington, D.C., and attend his “Stop the Steal” rally on the date the election would be certified. He wanted to hold on to power no matter what it took. As Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney said, Trump “summoned the mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame of this attack.”

On Jan. 6, 2021, my family and I watched from our living room as members of my own party objected to the counting of Arizona’s electoral ballots.

As we watched the insurrectionists fight the Capitol Police and disgrace our U.S. Capitol Building — the sacred cathedral of our democracy — we were struck with profound sadness and intense anger.

It was clear to me, in those hours, that Trump had betrayed the oath that he, every president, myself, and countless representatives across our government have taken. His sworn oath meant nothing to him.

I sincerely hope my fellow Republicans grasp that this is an issue that transcends any political party affiliation. I spent a quarter century combined in the General Assembly and in Congress fighting for Pennsylvanians and working hard to advocate for our party’s values.

I love my country and the principles of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution upon which it was founded. I am a strong believer in free enterprise, spending and taxing restraint, a strong military and individual liberty, and, perhaps above all else, accountability — and Trump must be held accountable for his assault on our nation’s most fundamental principles.

American democracy is dependent upon the peaceful transfer of power between administrations. I always knew that the most important thing was not whom I personally wanted in the White House, but the fact that American democracy stood strong.

The only thing Trump cared about was that he stayed in power even though he had been voted out of office, and he incited an insurrection against the Constitution in an attempt to achieve that goal.

The authors of Section 3 of the 14th Amendment created the provision to protect the Constitution from the exact threat Trump poses. It is now up to the U.S. Supreme Court, which heard arguments in the case last Thursday, to affirm this fact.

To do otherwise would be to betray America’s democracy itself.

Jim Greenwood was a member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives for the 143rd District from 1981 to 1986 and the PA Senate for the 10th District from 1987 to 1993. He represented Bucks County in what was then the 8th Congressional District from 1992 until 2005.

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