Episode 58: We need to make truth our national purpose, featuring Barb McQuade, BA ‘87/JD ’91

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Episode 58: We need to make truth our national purpose, featuring Barb McQuade.

Deborah Holdship
Hi, I’m Deborah Holdship, editor of Michigan Today.

Back in the before times: Before cable news introduced the 24-hour news cycle. Before the news became some sort of profit center. Before the Internet connected us to an onslaught of endless information, it used to take a lot more effort and time to spread lies and wreak social havoc. As consumers of news, modern Americans demand instant gratification, even as we stagger under the mental weight of information overload. Where once a delay in a publication meant the quest for accuracy, now it stokes suspicion of a cover up.

In her new book, Attack From Within, out in February, my guest, law professor and MSNBC legal analyst Barb McQuade, notes that American politics has us mired in a cult of victimhood, an endless soap opera of heroes and villains, sustained drama and constant conflict. Humans are wired to believe things are happening with purpose, not just by chance, and thus we are vulnerable to all manner of manipulation, conspiracies, and disinformation.

Ironically, it’s our undying commitment to the 1st and 2nd Amendments that make Americans most vulnerable to domestic chaos, McQuade says. One person’s content moderation is another person’s censorship. One person’s right to bear arms is seemingly another’s right to organize a militia and overturn an election. Bias is natural, of course, but the worst bias is the my side bias, says McQuade, most starkly demonstrated in the political arena before and since the November 2020 election. We become blind to the flaws in our own arguments, while the opponent’s flaws are positively blinding. To make matters worse, efforts to debunk falsehoods tend to reinforce them.

McQuade believes that if we dissect and label these insidious disinformation tactics as old as Sun Zoo in The art of War. We can render them less effective.

Her book offers some practical solutions to our current dilemma. It’s tricky, though. With democracy comes social progress. Social progress creates uncertainty, and uncertainty makes us susceptible to manipulation. Our conviction that democracy will always be there is naive, MQquade says. It’s the relentless assault on truth but that we are experiencing now that leaves us paralyzed and passive as democracy dissolves. Here’s Barb McQuade.

Barb McQuade:
Yeah, there’s an old quote by Justice Jackson and the Supreme Court who says we have to use some practical wisdom to make sure we don’t convert the Bill of Rights into a suicide pact. And it it seems like we are on a collision course with that. And I think we live in a world where, you know, truth is used as this, almost cosmic Concept, Religious concept. You know what is truth? Truth is unknowable. Well, maybe so, but facts are knowable. Facts are black or white. Facts are the light was red or the light was green. And I think we have an obligation to be truthful with one another and then to debate our views on people have very different views and that’s all understandable. Whatever political viewpoints you may have, we should all agree that truth matters, and we should be able to have accurate facts that we can rely upon. And then we can have meaningful debate about how we want to govern ourselves.

It is this abuse of our rights through disinformation to lead us over the abyss.

AUDIOCLIP: “You can’t handle the truth.”

DH:
Disinformation has always existed and you take it all the way back to Sun-Tzu and the Art of War and the whole thing. Talk about how dramatically different it is today than, say, back in the beginning of the country when different politicians, you know, had their own press outlets to harass and attack each other.

BM:
I think technology is what has completely changed the game. Not only can anybody adopt a false persona online and say whatever they want, they can also use these bots, you know, essentially artificial intelligence, to amplify the message, so it looks like that message got a million likes and is a very popular idea, when in fact it might just be one person.

One of the things the Mueller Report found was that there was a an account called 10GOP that looked like it was a grassroots organization of the Republican Party in Tennessee. In fact, it was Russian operatives who were throwing all kinds of things out there. And it it attracted lots of followers. And the agenda it was pushing kept getting more and more extreme.

DH:
We remember that dramatic stuff. And so people who want to play with your mind are gonna push that button, I guess.

BM:
The purveyors of disinformation know what they’re doing and it goes back, as you say, not decades but centuries. And there are a number of cognitive forces that are at play that they use and manipulate. You know, one is just sort of fear of a changing society, of this sort of, you know, doom and gloom that everybody has a little bit with regard to the what the future might present, but, you know, people who engage in disinformation will paint a very dire picture of what that future might look like.

And when we’re bombarded by images from around the world of real tragedy and real suffering, it’s easy — our emotions really do come come up to the forefront there. And so we are kind of conditioned to be susceptible to disinformation and then, you know, using some of the same strategies that Hitler used. In Mein Kampf he described it as the “big lie.” And he said most people may lie about very small things: does this dress make me look fat? Little things, white lies. Most people will not say a lie so audacious that it just couldn’t be believed. And so, you know, this idea that in Germany that Jews were the source of all evil, and these ideas today, like a stolen election, it’s such an outrageous thing to say that normal people would never make up such a lie. Who would lie about such a thing?

And so that is part of what people prey upon, yeah, knowing that these forces are at play, they are playing games with us. But it’s a it’s a really deadly game.

DH:
So if people feel the need to reclaim the government, it feels like they’re doing something righteous.

BM:
Well, you know, they cobble together just enough pieces of the Declaration of Independence and conflate it with the Constitution. You know, we don’t like tyrants and we like rebellion, right? And we had a revolution over these things. But if you look at the Constitution, it makes it clear that insurrection is frowned upon. It’s a crime. The president is allowed to call up militias to put down insurrections. And so the idea that the Constitution in some way promotes the rights of the citizens to overthrow the government is just not consistent with the language of the Constitution or what’s in our statutes. The militia described in the Second Amendment is today’s National Guard. It is not, you know, a group of knuckleheads who like to shoot things in the woods. And people who use that to support these militia activities are really playing with fire. It’s a very dangerous thing — the idea of vigilante violence, that private groups can take the law into their own hands, makes all of us very unsafe.

DH:
That whole “us against them,” this false binary… The world is so much more complicated than that.

BM:
If I can convince people that there’s only two sides to an issue, and then I can paint my opponent as so outrageous and evil and to demonize them, then I’m the only alternative left. And of course, the reality is there are lots of choices in this world. It isn’t a red team and a blue team and that’s it. You know, most of America is really quite moderate and we have the capacity to appreciate the nuance. But I think in our complex world, we rely too much on proxies to tell us what to think about things instead of learning all those facts for ourselves.

DH:

So now we can’t even rely on what we see because of what technology has wrought.

BM:
In some ways, technology has been a challenge, but I also think it can create some opportunities. You know, for example, I think we could use artificial intelligence to help to detect falsity in the news. You know, whenever there is a news story, maybe it can flag other news stories that give us accurate facts about those things so that we can find other sources that are perhaps debunking what we’re reading there. Maybe artificial intelligence can be used to detect bots on the Internet, to detect accounts that are not in Tennessee, where they say they are but are in Saint Petersburg, Russia.

So yeah, I think that there are ways you can utilize technology. What we really just need is the political will to do it. You know, we need to unite and make truth our national purpose. And if we do, I think there are a lot of things we can do to use technology, to use government regulation. You know, we’ve really left social media wide open. We’ve got this Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act that immunizes social media platforms. And I don’t know if we need to repeal it, but yeah, we could certainly regulate to require verifying the identity of people on social media, Putting some transparency in who’s paying for ads on social media, all of those things would allow us to make more informed decisions as we assess the accuracy of information that’s online.

They also think that paywalls are something that is posing a really big challenge in the news environment and that is something that regulation could perhaps address. You know, journalism has really struggled to figure out how to monetize its product and how to stay profitable so that they can continue to produce news. And I think it’s one of the reasons we have seen a fall in local news coverage, which is so important as well. You know what’s going on at the local school boards and and the health boards, those employees are being demonized over what they’re trying to do. And that’s so important. And so I think we need to figure out how we’re going to monetize and subsidize, financially support local news and avoid this paywall where we risk creating a class of informed versus uninformed people based on who has the ability to pay. One proposal that’s been floated out there is everybody gets a certain amount of credits that they can use. So we still have a marketplace of ideas, so to speak, but everyone has free access to decide what they want to read. And it could be a way of funding good journalism.

DH:
Well, I so appreciate your role in the media explaining the law. You know, you’re an educator who can just go on there and say, well, what this person is saying doesn’t make sense because this is what the law states. I think that’s so helpful. It’s so important.

BM:
Yeah, I, you know, I I try to make my legal analysis, really just explaining. From time to time on various news networks you will see people who have very shrill opinions. And as a consumer of news, that’s not really what I want to hear. I want to understand the news and it can be very complicated and so, I think, cable news, at least, is at its best when it brings in experts who do not have a political agenda, who are just trying to explain — because the world’s a complicated place. But I really appreciate when there are complicated issues going around the world, that we have former ambassadors and university professors who can come on and help us to process these things.

MSNBC Audio: “Barbara, what should we expect today? And should we expect the court to actually hold Donald Trump accountable? …. “

BM:
So, you know, the 1st Amendment is all about protecting the content of what we say. It’s very difficult to tell platforms what they can and can’t say in terms of content. But it’s these algorithms. You know, there’s a woman named Francis Haugen, who was a whistleblower of Facebook who testified before Congress. When you get all that suggested content, that is coming from algorithms. But one of the things that she exposed with Facebook was they created all of these various reaction emojis. You know, there used to be “like” and then they added “dislike” or “hate.” And they found when people disliked or hated something is what kept people online longer. And so if you want to keep people on the platform, then you want to promote these things that create outrage. It will cause people to stay on the platform longer, look at the ads, and they will make more money. And so that is something that I think those algorithms, at the very least, even if you want to control what the algorithms are, disclose what the algorithms are, right? So that a user can say, ohh, I don’t want to use the one that is deliberately ginning up my outrage. I’ll go to the other one where I can just have a normal conversation.

DH:

Wow. And so that doesn’t seem to be asking too much.

BM:
Yeah, even Jack Dorsey, the former CEO of Twitter, has said that we really ought to reimagine social media as a utility, something that’s run by nonprofit organizations as opposed to a handful of billionaires. Right? You know, we’ve got billionaires calling the shots and deciding what these things should be. And, you know, guess what their motive is? Profit. Well, if we want to have a more altruistic motive and one that brings information to the people, maybe a little regulation could go a long way.

DH:
You talk about conspiracy theories. We are so drawn to them because we’re trained to look for connections and patterns in what we’re looking at. And then the world is so crazy and we want to simplify an otherwise very complicated reality. And so we’re just primed for it at this point.

BM:
You know, human nature is, as you say, is wired for conspiracy theories and it is what has helped the species to survive. The example I cite is when we see, you know, gathering storm clouds. We recognize: Ohh, that must mean a storm is coming. I better prepare for a storm. We’re also wired to win arguments, because in society, if we want to succeed, we have to live in social groups. And so we’re wired to win and to be very stubborn about our cause. It makes us care more about winning than it does about being right. It makes it very difficult for people to admit they were wrong and to change their minds.

So once you fall for disinformation or a candidate who is pushing disinformation, it’s very difficult for us to say: Oh my gosh, you’re right. That candidate was an absolute liar. And I’ve changed my mind.

And so I think what we need to do is to, you know, reach out when someone is wrong, you know, give them some grace. Yeah, to come back to the fold as opposed to, you know, spiking the football and saying I was right, you were wrong. Yeah, that’s not the way to achieve unity.

DH:
And the problem is too, once you realize you’re wrong, it shakes your confidence in your ability to suss out the truth.

BM:

You know, the goal in Russia is to confuse people, to bombard them with false claims. It may be even inconsistent claims. Consistency doesn’t matter. And the idea is to just get people so confused that they become cynical and then eventually numb and say: You know what, I’m just checking out. I’m not going to participate in elective politics. I’m just gonna take care of my day-to-day life. I’m gonna feed my family. I’m gonna work my job. But politics is just too much for me to deal with.

And you know, we can’t be  a democracy of self-governance if we cede all of our power to those who are trying to manipulate us. So there are a lot of ways we could do it to make sure that we are getting access because one of the things you point out is the way we have now arranged ourselves into these bubbles. You know, former Congressman Justin Amash, who’s a graduate of Michigan Law School, was holding a town hall when he was a member of Congress in West Michigan. And he was trying to explain to his constituents why he had voted in favor of impeaching Donald Trump. He is a Republican. And he was stunned to find out that some of his constituents had never really heard a lot of the news about why he had taken the position that he had. All they heard were sort of the pro-Trump reports. And so he said it was very eye-opening to hear how, you know, people were just so unaware of the news because we’ve arranged ourselves into these red spaces and blue spaces where we never hear the other side of a debate.

DH:
What are your impressions of media today? How have you seen it evolve?

BM:
The best parts of it are still good human reporters, journalists who really care about this idea of accuracy a friend, Joyce Vance, she is a former US attorney and law professor and she has a Substack called Civil Discourse. And one of the things that she wrote about recently that gave me some hope is that there is a new research study that shows that when people are exposed to sort of the other side of the story, they will actually moderate their opinions. And so that says to me that we just need to reach people so that people can hear all sides of a story and then form their own opinions. So that’s really good.

You know, one of the things that could be helpful is implementing this equal time rule on social media with flags, you know? If there is an ad for a candidate X then maybe AI sends you in your algorithm is something from the opponent of candidate X so that you get to hear the response to the statement.

AUDIO: Hitler freaking out

We have been through a lot of these things before, and you know, what has often saved us are our institutions. But now we’re seeing a real attack even on our institutions themselves. And so I think the historical perspective is a real cautionary tale.

You know, in my book I cite some of the tactics used by Hitler and Stalin and Mussolini and I think we can learn from those that. Look at these tactics. These are, you know, kind of almost simplistic little tools. They worked then, and it’s still working now. If we can raise our awareness of that history, I think we can use it to build some resilience toward the future.

DH:
Well, and that’s where you’re saying to spark a national debate and a nonpartisan debate.

BM:
We have to start from the same place. That we agree on certain facts. You know, throughout my career as a lawyer and as an officer of the court, you owe a duty of candor to the court. You have to accept the facts even when they are not to your liking. So often the public is going along with the con because they want to see their side prevail. If the politician shares our agenda – and maybe we believe everybody’s corrupt — I might as well vote for the guy who shares my values, even though he’s corrupt. And we have to get beyond that.

DH:
That commitment to truth and accuracy. I don’t know. How are you finding your students?

BM:
Right now I’m teaching a great course in national security and civil liberties, and it talks about the tension between protecting the public and honoring our civil liberties, including this issue about the First and Second Amendments — honoring those rights, but at the same time not letting them be used against us as a weapon.

Just yesterday I had two former FBI agents who studied disinformation, a lot of Russian disinformation, speak to the class about this and it’s absolutely fascinating to hear. This used to be something that Russia did to us to try to manipulate us on the world stage, and now we have domestic actors stealing from that playbook and doing it within the United States.

DH:
Did you say that we need a statute regarding domestic terrorism, like we have yet to create something like that? To put domestic terrorists in a category unto themselves, as opposed to murderers, or … ?

BM:
Currently, if someone uses explosives to blow up a building, you can charge them with a federal offense. But you can’t if they engage in a mass shooting or if they engage in a vehicle ramming, not a federal offense. And so I think just to close that gap and to indicate that there is a moral equivalency between domestic terrorism and international terrorism. I think that would be a very good thing that would allow not just punishment after the fact, but prevention before the fact.

DH:
So if they’re trying to stop something before it happens, a lot of times people would equate that with, you know, unnecessary interference in someone’s life or something.

BM:
The Justice Department and the FBI came up with a number of internal guidelines that prohibit that kind of investigation based on people’s exercise of their First Amendment-protected activity, i.e., people who are protesters or writing op eds cannot be investigated for that purpose. It’s really planning of violence that would be the trigger for an investigation. And I think that sometimes because of that fear of what happened in the 60s, and it’s an absolutely legitimate position to be opposed to what the FBI was engaged in at that time, sometimes that causes people to go so far in the other direction and say, well, that’s all hands off then. Yeah, well, that can’t be the case, right. You can plot, you know, a violent attack just because it’s a domestic actor instead of an international actor? You know that that should not be the case.

We can have it both ways. We can make sure that we are protecting civil liberties by not starting investigations based on First Amendment-based activity, but instead, anything based on violence I think should be fair game. And there should be a responsibility by the FBI to investigate those kinds of cases.

DH:
You know, I like hearing you say we can have it both ways.

BM:
One of the things we need to do is invest in social capital by getting out and joining and belonging and seeing our common humanity, you know? It happens in faith communities, it happens in labor unions, it happens in sports leagues. Wherever you can get out and see that there are people from across the political aisle but with whom you have more in common than you have difference, then I think it makes it much harder for authoritarians to demonize other people.

We need to get out of our little bubbles and get out there and embrace humanity. And I think that would go a long way toward solving some of these problems.

DH:
Well, as we embark on a wild election year, I hope we are able to navigate the murky waters of disinformation and work together as fellow Americans to uphold and protect our unique form of sel -governance. I appreciate Barb’s practical and measured approach and highly recommend her book no matter your political affiliation. All right, that’s it for now. Congratulations to our national champion football team and as always, go blue.

Can we handle the truth?

History’s most heinous dictators have long relied on disinformation to destroy free societies and claim absolute power over nations. 

Today’s agents of chaos tend to be regular citizens, using social and traditional media as well as artificial intelligence to pollute the information ecosystem with lies and conspiracy theories. And in a sinister twist, modern-day extremists living in the U.S. are taking cues from history’s worst offenders – Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini – to wreak social havoc here at home, says Barb McQuade, BA ’87/JD ’91.

“For American democracy to survive, U.S. citizens need to make truth our national purpose,” says the professor of practice at Michigan Law. McQuade also is an MSNBC legal analyst and the author of the new book Attack from Within (Seven Stories Press, 2024). She hopes to spark a national, bipartisan discourse about how to combat disinformation amid the exponential dangers posed by the Internet, partisan media, and artificial intelligence.

“We can’t be a democracy of self-governance if we cede all our power to those who are trying to manipulate us,” McQuade says. “These almost-simplistic tools and tactics that worked in the past are still working today. But now you can spread the word with the touch of a button and reach millions of people. Not only that, you can also adopt a false persona online and use bots to amplify your message.”

The author reflects on her freshman year as a sports reporter at The Michigan Daily where she learned the “most important component in news is accuracy.” That simple tenet still shapes her career, from the courtroom to the classroom.

“Truth matters,” McQuade says. “And yet we live in a world where truth is treated as this almost cosmic, religious concept — as though truth is unknowable. Maybe so. But facts are knowable. Facts are black or white. And you have to accept the facts even when they are not to your liking.”

From outrage to apathy

Headshot of caucasian woman in business clothes. Shoulder-length brown hair, freckles, and a smile.

Barbara McQuade, BA ’87/JD ’91 (Image courtesy of U-M Law School.)

Propaganda is no stranger to politics, but the forces at play today are more dangerous ever, McQuade says. 

Research shows that humans are wired with the compulsion to be right — and to win, sometimes at all costs – even when irrefutable evidence negates one’s argument. In the political arena, one may be tempted to “go along with the con,” just to see the preferred candidate or party prevail. “We want to believe,” McQuade notes, which seems less painful than admitting an error in judgment or risking “cancelation” by one’s peers. 

And while human minds are adept at identifying patterns, making connections, and simplifying complexity, these traits also make us vulnerable to conspiracy theories and “big lies” about everything from COVID to climate change, McQuade says. Consider the myriad interpretations of the First and Second Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, often invoked to justify the actions of armed people who breached the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. The stated goal by many who have since been incarcerated was to take back a “stolen election” in response to lies propagated by partisan players. 

“There’s a quote from Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson [1941-54],” McQuade says, “that we have to use practical wisdom to make sure we don’t convert the Bill of Rights into a suicide pact. And it seems like we are on a collision course with that.”

The repetitive and relentless assault on truth is designed to leave us paralyzed and passive, she says.

“It’s this abuse of our rights through disinformation that will lead us over the abyss.”

On the edge

All hope is not lost, McQuade says in Attack from Within. Research indicates when people are presented with opposing views and more information about a scenario, they can shift their position and moderate their views. The former U.S. attorney uses the book to deliver pragmatic solutions to defeat disinformation, noting “a little regulation could go a long way.”

“This is not a partisan argument; it’s about the essential need for truth. Most of America is really quite moderate and we have the capacity to appreciate nuance,” McQuade says. “But I think in our complex world, we rely too much on proxies to tell us what to think about things instead of learning all those facts for ourselves.”

Regulation could force transparency online – from exposing the true identities of internet actors to revealing what entity is paying for which campaign ad.

Book cover: Attack from Within by Barb McQuade. Royal blue with black type and fist bursting through a map of the U.S.

(Seven Stories Press, 2024)

Artificial intelligence could be used to detect/debunk fake news. It could identify bots and expose fake accounts on social media. 

To combat the algorithms that reinforce personal bias in one’s customized “news bubble,” AI could be used to flag counterprogramming, opposing arguments, and ads with a position contrary to the content one usually receives. Regulators could require websites to disclose the methodology behind their algorithms, which are often designed to push outrageous content that keeps users engaged on their platform. Such disclosure would mean users could knowingly visit a site created to “gin up” their grievances or opt for a more measured editorial experience.

“Democracy is all about an informed electorate,” McQuade says. “And if we’re not just an uninformed but a disinformed electorate, it becomes very difficult to make important decisions for self-governance.”

McQuade says some experts even suggest media outlets eliminate paywalls and replace them with a system of user credits as a way to keep the marketplace of ideas open for low-income consumers and avoid a society of informed versus uninformed citizens. This could offset one of modern media’s biggest challenges: monetizing and subsidizing robust news organizations, especially at the local level.  

Perhaps the most effective strategy to combat disinformation is to focus more on the actual “town square” than the virtual one.

“One of the things we need to do is invest in social capital by getting out of our little bubbles and embracing our shared humanity,” McQuade says. “It happens in faith communities, labor unions, sports leagues. Whenever we can see people from across the political aisle with whom we have more in common than we have difference, it makes it much harder for authoritarians to demonize us. The more we can get away from a world of ‘us and them’ and focus on the ‘we,’ the better off we’ll be.”

Comments

  1. Hillary Beckman - 1996

    This is the number 1 most pressing issue of today and especially for educators as we teach young people to critically think while they spend a majority of their time engaged with social media. The biggest issue I see is the algorithms that identify and categorize a young user by an immature ideology and then through pushed content that is not screened for validity, bolsters that ideology to an extreme indoctrinating the user. Furthermore, by withholding any content that does not support said ideology, the user never experiences challenges to the ideology such that when, in the real world they do encounter challenges, they have no communication skills to engage in positive discourse and resort to tantrums. I think these algorithms are the death of critical thinking and the killer of truth. It’s a travesty and education is the army we should be employing to fight this degradation of intelligence. Thank you Barbara for your work and for beginning the conversation. I hope America and the world is listening.

    Reply

  2. Nancy Boyer-Rechlin - 1970

    Thank you!!!!!

    Reply

  3. George Louis - 1970 at USD School of Law

    Dear Professor Barbara McQuaade, Esq.:
    Teaching Constitutional Law and Some Clarifications of Article 3 of the 14th Amendment
    Please read below why it doesn’t matter if Trump didn’t engage in an insurrection or rebellion because his other actions are sufficient to prohibit him under Article 3 of the 14th Amendment from holding any government office. I’ve been practicing law for over 50 years in California. My California Bar Number is: 54001

    It’s my opinion that law schools should consider suspending their Constitutional Law classes until the Court adopts an enforceable code of ethics as the law schools’ protest of the Supreme Court’s ethical lapses that should require recusals of potential conflicts interest or the appearance thereof and their thinly veiled politically tainted rulings the Court has been indulging in recently and the need to restore stare decisis to its former importance to its rulings, because at present its rulings seem predominately politically ad hoc, so then, what’s the point of teaching Constitutional law?
    Clarification of misunderstandings of Article 3 of the 14th Amendment and the difference between “or” versus “and.” Section 3 of the 14 Amendment of the United States Constitution 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. Thus, It’s the difference between the meaning of or versus and which means that an individual is subject to the disqualification under Article 3 of the 14th Amendment need only have committed any one of the potential disqualifying actions to be prohibited from holding a government office.

    SPOILER ALERT: the Constitution is a Cafeteria Constitution – not! Donald J. Trump is already barred under Article 3 of the 14th Amendment and can never become President again unless Congress by a vote of two-thirds of each House, removes such disability! Secretaries of State have also taken an oath to support the Constitution and therefore, must follow their unambiguously implied duty to not allow an enemy of the Constitution on their Sate’s ballots because it’s beyond any reasonable doubt that Donald J. Trump is an enemy of the Constitution as defined in Article 3 of the 14th Amendment because any of the four reasons listed is independently sufficient for disqualifying of a person from holding a government office in the United States.

    Likewise, all of the other 8 Republican Party’s candidates are barred from holding a government office; many individuals who are currently holding a government office are subject to being removed from office; and many others have already disqualified themselves from ever holding a government office; and as explained below, if an individual who made an oath to support the Constitution gives aid or support to an enemy of the Constitution, then by definition are themselves an enemy of the Constitution and shouldn’t be allowed to hold a government office or on a ballot for government office – that’s the elephant in the room — the opinions of originalist Judges notwithstanding.

    But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability. But if the application of Article 3 of the 14th Amendment wasn’t automatic, then it wouldn’t require a vote of two-thirds of each House, to remove such disability, and it doesn’t give that right to the President to excuse himself or anyone else from such disability nor does the Supreme Court have right to remove that disability. And because there’s no statute of limitations that applies to any of the four separate violations by someone whose words or deeds fulfill the definitions of a violation of the oath that they took under Article 3 of the 14th Amendment, that means that any person who has done so has committed a capital offense against the Constitution and therefore should be treated accordingly.
    Note that it doesn’t matter whether or not Donald J. Trump engaged in a resurrection or a rebellion that would obviously bar him from holding a government office, because that’s not required for him to be disqualified to hold a government office because by giving either aid or support to an enemy of the Constitution is by themselves sufficient to disqualify him and he did both! Besides that some of the people who attacked the US Capitol on January 6, 2020, have already been convicted of Seditious Conspiracy/pleaded guilty to being part of a Seditious Conspiracy to overturn our government thus they then can be considered enemies of our Constitution and thus, Trump’s stating that we love you and if he’s reelected, he’ll most likely pardon them because they’ve been badly treated easily fits the definition of, “… giving aid or comfort to the enemies thereof under §3 of the 14th Amendment. …” In addition, Trump says that the Constitution, of the United States should be terminated which certainly gives comfort to our enemies. Additionally, as if that wasn’t already enough, Trump has held two fund raising events to add money to the legal funds of those who’ve already been convicted, which by definition is giving aid to enemies of the Constitution. Additionally, by not calling off the insurrectionists on January 6, 2020, he gave aid and comfort to the insurrectionists. Section 3 of the 14th Amendment doesn’t require charging or convicting Trump of anything and therefore, Trump isn’t eligible to hold any government office. So, what’s with the obsession with whether or not Trump was engaged or directly involved with fomenting the January 6, 2021, insurrection or rebellion when that’s not required to bar him from the holding a government office?
    There’s no argument that under the Constitution a candidate for President must be a naturally born Citizen of the United States, be at least 35 years old by the time he would take office, and a resident for 14 years’ or more. It’s no different when it comes to enforcing Article 3 of the 14th Amendment that must also be enforced because one can’t just pick and choose which parts of the Constitution to enforce as if it was a cafeteria. That said, if the case went to trial, (although isn’t required under Article 3 of the 14th Amendment), it would be a civil against Donald J. Trump, which only requires a preponderance of the evidence (However, in this case I believe that the evidence is beyond any reasonable doubt.) to find that his words and/or acts meet the definitions of giving aid or comfort to the enemies of the Constitution therefore, as stated above, either one is independently sufficient in and of itself to bar him from ever holding a government office again. It’s just that simple and really not that complicated at all – game over! Secretaries of State have also taken an oath to support the Constitution and therefore, must follow their unambiguously implied duty to not allow an enemy of the Constitution be on their Sate’s ballots because it’s beyond any reasonable doubt that Donald J. Trump is an enemy of the Constitution as defined in Article 3 of the 14th Amendment.
    if an individual who made an oath to support the Constitution gives aid or support to an enemy of the Constitution, then by definition they are themselves an enemy of the Constitution and shouldn’t be allowed to hold a government office or on a ballot for government office – that’s the elephant in the room. This also applies to Lawyers whom in order to become an Attorney member of a State Bar and practice law either for compensation or Pro Bono must have made an oath to defend and support the Constitution in order to become an officer of the Court and therefore, should become be subject to disbarment if they if they violate their oath because they’re Officers of the Court and can’t hold any government office. And just as when a person has attempted a crime but not succeeded or they’re still guilty of attempt. Thus, once a person has been under a sanction of Article 3 of the 14th Amendment their sanction can only be removed by a 2/3rds vote of each house of Congress. For example, Chis Christi’s simply recanting his previous support for against Donald J. Trump is insufficient to remove his disqualification to ever hold another government office.
    Donald J. Trump’s First Amendment rights aren’t being violated because he was and is free to make his declarations of support or give aid to enemies of the Constitution and because neither of those acts are crimes and therefore, his is right to be presumed to be innocent before being convicted in a Court of Law isn’t applicable here and under the Constitution the Supreme Court has no role to play in determining whether Donald J. Trump is eligible to hold a government office.
    Therefore, it’s irrelevant whether or not Donald J. Trump is reelected, engaged in an insurrection or rebellion or whether or not someone else, or state or for that matter he Supreme Court attempts to pardon him, because under Article 3 of the 14th Amendment it’s only Congress that can pardon him for any one or more of the four reasons for disqualification of a person from holding a governmental office that’s independently sufficient to meet said bar of by a 2/3rds vote of each House to remove such disability. And it should go without saying that a person who’s barred from holding office name should not be on the ballot because that would probably result in some voters wasting their votes because they voted for someone who can never hold the office.
    Therefore, Secretaries of State should refuse to list Donald J. Trump on their State’s Ballots because he’s no longer eligible to hold any government offices. This means that Courts and Prosecutors don’t need to consider Trump’s Presidential campaign schedule when setting trial dates in his other cases, because he can’t become President again.
    Respectfully submitted,
    George S. Louis, Esq., California Bar Number: 54001, Phone: 619-496-3674, email: louisgeorge4838@gmail.com
    P.S. If you agree my contentions, you could file an amicus curiae brief in either the District, Supreme Court or both.

    Epilogue

    I think that the current state of the play over Article 3 of the 14th Amendment is only slightly encouraging because as usual the big-name professors and lawyers seem more interested showing off their erudition by waxing elegantly over the law rather than explaining the legal issues so that the lay public can understand the application of the law. All a non-lawyer needs to understand Article 3 of the 14th Amendment is the benefit of a decent high school English class.
    I’ve already suffered too many pronouncements of law professors and lawyers who are overrepresented in both halls of Congress, and if they become Judges, frequently seem to more interested in espousing pseudo legal wisdom and theories in order to advance their not-so-secret political agendas rather than what the law actually is supposed to stand for – equal justice for all!
    Our Country is at a critical tipping point of deciding between following the law or becoming subservient to politics and popular opinion, i.e., a proper Presidential election with only Constitutionally eligible candidates on the ballot by and letting the rule law preempt politics by enforcing Article 3 of the 14th Amendment. I think that It’s time that we stood up for the rule of law and the plain meaning of the Constitution. The Founding Fathers wisely knew for the Country to survive, we needed a Constitution in order to avoid the tyranny and the vagaries of public opinion because otherwise the result would simply devolve into chaos and perhaps blood in the streets and even another civil war that would most likely lead to the Country’s demise. The Constitution is clear, and if we’re going to follow the rule of law in this Country, we can’t leave it up to a vote of the public to decide what the Constitution means (That’s a question for the Supreme Court to decide.) and whether or not it applies to Donald Trump, because that’s not a political question. We can’t let public opinion regardless of whether it’s right or wrong or for better or worse control whether or not the Constitution should rule, because that would violate the most important principle in this Country, that no one is above the law and be the end of our democracy, and that’s definitely not the sort of precedent that we should want to establish!
    P.P.S. If the following would be applicable to you then, I’d l propose that we file a class action lawsuit for intentional of emotional distress including punitive damage/negligent inflictions of emotional distress against Donald J. Trump and all of the Republican Candidates who are running for any government office on behalf of the approximately 310 million in the people of the United States age 5 or older with the exception that anyone convicted of wrongdoing on January 6, 2020, wouldn’t be eligible to receive monetary compensation. The primary purpose of the class action would be to educate the public on Trump’s violations of Article 3 of the 14th Amendment, because as I explained above, I believe that Article 3 of the 14th Amendment is being misinterpreted because any objective application to Trump’s statements and actions (that are ongoing) would objectively disqualify him from being on any Presidential ballot let alone hold any government office. I would work pro bono and not be one of the Plaintiffs and hope that you would also. I think you and your firm would be the beneficiary of some really excellent PR. To make the class action newsworthy, perhaps it should be for of $7,750,000,000,000, ($7-3/4 trillion dollars!) which equates to approximately $25,000 per Plaintiff plus punitive damages and each of all the Republican Candidates should be jointly and severally liable for the entire amount all be e And bear in mind that as a general rule most often a court award for committing an intentional tort such as intentional infliction of emotional distress is not dischargeable in bankruptcy. If you’ve read this far, then you’ve already read my explanation of how and why Article 3 of the 14th Amendment applies to Donald J. Trump to bar him from being on any ballot for a government office.
    And finally, on a bit of a bit of a lighter note: find 5 numbers that are all different from each other and are all greater than zero such that their sum equals their product. You don’t need AI to solve the problem, just a little human intelligence (HI). Find A, B, C, D, and E where all of the numbers are different, greater than zero, and A + B + C + D + E = A x B x C x D x E.

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