Should Trump Be Removed From the Ballot?

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  • Reflections After Claudine Gay’s Resignation at Harvard

Legal challenges similar to the one former President Donald J. Trump faces in Colorado are pending in at least 16 additional states. Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “Seeing Threat to Democracy, With Trump on Ballot or Not” (front page, Dec. 31):

The argument by Republicans like J.D. Vance and Chris Christie and Democrats like Gavin Newsom that removing Donald Trump from the ballot would be anti-democratic and would deprive voters of the right to choose their president is flawed in two respects.

First, the 14th Amendment — like the rest of the Constitution — was adopted through a democratic process. It is no more anti-democratic to deny Mr. Trump a place on the ballot because he engaged in insurrection than it is to disqualify a 34-year-old from running for president because of the age requirement.

Second, if the Supreme Court chooses not to enforce the 14th Amendment on the premise that voters should be able to make an unfettered decision, it must give voters an opportunity to assess all of the facts for themselves. If the court were to reverse the Colorado decision to keep Mr. Trump off the ballot, a necessary corollary must be an expedited criminal trial on the Jan. 6-related indictment so that voters can be fully informed before deciding whether to vote for Mr. Trump.

The polls suggest that the results of this trial could change the votes of a significant number of Mr. Trump’s supporters and could determine the outcome of the election.

Randy Speck

To the Editor:

“Seeing Threat to Democracy, With Trump on Ballot or Not” leaves out a crucial problem: the glacial pace of the criminal justice system. Whether former President Donald Trump is guilty of insurrection should have already been decided in court. But our justice system is too slow, and too vulnerable to Mr. Trump’s favorite legal strategy, to delay, delay, delay.

Since March 2023, Mr. Trump has been charged with 91 felonies in four cases: falsifying business records, mishandling classified documents, and attempting to overturn the 2020 election through an insurrection and by trying to strong-arm Georgia officials. But we haven’t seen Mr. Trump cleared or convicted of these charges, charges filed only years after the fact.

With courtroom justice delayed, and mountains of compelling evidence publicly available, it’s no surprise that challenges have been filed in 32 states to consider whether Mr. Trump is guilty of insurrection and thus ineligible to run for president.

Deciding Mr. Trump’s guilt or innocence before the next election is still possible. But it will require judicial officials to act faster than may be comfortable or usual. American democracy is at stake, making it imperative that justice not be denied through delay.

Tom Levy
Oakland, Calif.

To the Editor:

Re “How Justices May Weigh Trump Case,” by Adam Liptak (news analysis, front page, Dec. 30):

In 2000, I wrote a statement eventually signed by 673 law professors (and run as a full-page ad in The Times) denouncing the Bush v. Gore justices for acting as “political partisans, not judges of a court of law.” Will they do so again?

The Republican-appointed justices can escape partisanship by rejecting the feeble arguments against removing Donald Trump from the ballot.

First, the 14th Amendment plainly applies to the presidency. Who can take seriously the notion that the amendment’s authors wanted to prevent insurrectionists from running for dogcatcher but not the most powerful office in the land?

Second, Jan. 6 was obviously an insurrection — a violent attempt to overturn an election and prevent a lawfully elected president from taking office.

Finally, those who argue “let the voters decide” ignore that it was precisely the point of the constitutional provision to prevent voters from deciding to put insurrectionists back into power.

Anti-democratic? In a way. Those who wrote Section 3 of the 14th Amendment recognized that American democracy remained at risk from those who had once tried to overthrow our government. When it came to insurrection, their view was: “One strike, you’re out.”

We face the very same risks today. An insurrectionist wants another shot at dictatorship. The Constitution says no way.

Mitchell Zimmerman
Palo Alto, Calif.

To the Editor:

Re “In Trump Case, Voters’ Will vs. Rule of Law,” by Charlie Savage (news analysis, Dec. 23):

Mr. Savage considers the argument that removing Donald Trump’s name from the ballot based on the 14th Amendment would deprive voters of the right to pick their leaders, and he sees a clash between voters’ rights and the principle that no one is above the law.

But there is no such conflict here. We must of course respect voters’ rights, if our democracy is to endure. Which is all the more reason to enforce the 14th Amendment and keep Mr. Trump off the ballot.

He was already rejected by the voters in 2020, and he refused to accept their decision. He refused to honor his constitutional duty to enable the peaceful transfer of power. He attempted to deprive millions of voters of their right to have their votes counted. One purpose of Section 3 of the 14th Amendment is to prevent such people from repeating such a travesty.

Let us also dispense with the argument that we should keep Mr. Trump on the ballot to avoid social unrest. The coming election — assuming a rematch between President Biden and Mr. Trump — will be fraught with problems, no matter the outcome.

If Mr. Trump wins, he will keep his promises to destroy many of our democratic institutions; if he loses, he will not accept his defeat, and we will see a replay of 2020, and possibly of Jan. 6, 2021.

The consequences of enforcing the law might be dire, but the consequences of not enforcing it might be worse.

Larry Hohm

Reflections After Claudine Gay’s Resignation at Harvard

Credit…Adam Glanzman for The New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “What Happened at Harvard Is Bigger Than Me,” by Claudine Gay, the former president of Harvard (Opinion guest essay, Jan. 4):

I applaud Dr. Gay’s guest essay. She emphasizes how her position as a Black woman in a position of power partly explains the venom with which she has been attacked. The press, including The New York Times, should be drawing greater attention to the rampant misogyny unleashed in these attacks on leading women in academia.

Susan Laird Mody
Plattsburgh, N.Y.
The writer is emerita associate professor of education and gender and women’s studies at SUNY Plattsburgh.

To the Editor:

Claudine Gay wraps herself in Harvard’s toga of integrity. It simply won’t work, not for herself nor for Harvard. Plagiarism allegations are serious, especially for an academic researcher — or for a president of a leading academic institution. The best she can do now is to leave gracefully, without excuses or explanations.

Mark Castelino
The writer is an associate professor of finance at Rutgers Business School.

To the Editor:

As a Harvard alumnus, I for one am sorry to see Claudine Gay go. Not because she was a perfect president. But because she demonstrated several qualities often lacking in public figures today: kindness, humility and a commitment to growth.

I also don’t understand people who say she wasn’t “qualified” because she didn’t have a voluminous research record. The presidency of Harvard is not a Nobel Prize. It’s an administrative role, and Dr. Gay was an accomplished university administrator. We should consider the agendas of those who suggest otherwise.

Bernie Zipprich
New York

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