Home News January 6 and Insurrection – a Response to Ross Douthat

January 6 and Insurrection – a Response to Ross Douthat


Rioters outside the U.S. Capitol on January 6.
January 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol. (Probal Rashid/ZUMAPRESS/Newscom)


In an article published today, New York Times columnist Ross Douthat responds to my and others’ arguments that the January 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol qualifies as an “insurrection” under Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment. To his credit Douthat recognizes that uprisings much smaller than the Civil War—including the Whiskey Rebellion and Adolf Hitler’s 1923 Beer Hall Putsch “—meet a reasonable definition of insurrection.” As I have pointed out previously, these cases featured violence on roughly the same scale as the January 6 attack.

But Douthat nonetheless claims such cases “are obviously different from Jan. 6”:

[T]he 14th Amendment disqualifies anyone who engaged “in insurrection or rebellion against the same” — with “the same” referring back to “the Constitution of the United States” in the prior clause. This wording tracks with my own understanding: What transforms a political event from a violent riot or lawless mob (which Jan. 6 plainly was) to a genuinely insurrectionary event is the outright denial of the authority of the existing political order and the attempt to establish some alternative order in its place.

There is no question that this is what the Munich Beer Hall Putsch set out to do….

[T]here was no…

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