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  • AQA Component The constitutional framework of US government

  • Edexcel Component 3: 1.1: The nature of the US Constitution

Background: what you need to know

The article discusses a case brought by a Colorado-based legal watchdog which argues that Donald Trump should be disqualified from running in the 2024 US presidential election. The case is based on Section 3 of the 14th amendment, which bars any person from holding office who took an ‘oath . . . to support the Constitution of the United States’ and then ‘engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same’ — a reference to Trump’s connection to the January 6 2021 Capitol riot. This is a controversial claim, with the ex-president’s supporters arguing that it is an attempt to deny voters their democratic right to judge him.

The episode is a good example of an often-noted characteristic of the US Constitution: its vagueness. It hinges on whether Trump’s actions constituted an insurrection. Some of his defenders have also denied that Section 3 of the 14th amendment applies to the president. The dispute could be escalated to the Supreme Court to decide.

Click the link below to read the article and then answer the questions:

Lawsuit seeks to declare Donald Trump’s presidential bid unconstitutional

Question in the style of AQA Politics Paper 2

  • Explain and analyse three ways in which the US Constitution could be regarded as unfit to meet the circumstances of the 21st century. [9 marks]

Question in the style of Edexcel Politics Paper 3

  • Evaluate the view that the vagueness of the US Constitution is a source of weakness rather than strength.

    You must consider this view and the alternative to this view in a balanced way. [30 marks]

    TIP: There are several examples of the vagueness of the US Constitution that could be used in answering questions on this topic. Another unresolved question from the Trump presidency was whether the president has the right to pardon himself. The role of the Supreme Court in adjudicating on contentious issues should be discussed. This raises the question of the ideological bias of the Court, seen for example in public reaction to its June 2022 ruling, overturning the constitutional right to abortion.

Graham Goodlad, Portsmouth High School

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