What exactly is the 14th Amendment?

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- You may have heard about the 14th Amendment and using it to remove members of Congress or the president over of last week's violence at the U.S. Capitol.

But what exactly is the arcane section of the Constitution and how does it apply?

ABC13 turned to constitutional law expert Josh Blackman, a professor at the South Texas College of Law in Houston, for the answer.

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"President Trump has a way of making the most obscure provision to the Constitution very important," Blackman said of Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, which owes its origins to the Civil War.

"During the Civil War, you had many members of Congress who basically left Congress to go serve the Confederacy," Blackman said. "This provision was an act to say if you were, if you held a certain position in the government and you join the side of insurrection, joined the Confederacy, you supported the enemy. You can then be disqualified from holding certain federal offices in the future."

Here's the actual language:

"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."

There is question, Blackman said, as to whether it actually applies to the president. That's never been tried before, though it makes up the argument for the Article of Impeachment that threatens Pres. Trump in the waning days of his presidency.

"One of the grounds for impeachment is that to engage in this insurrection is a violation of the 14th Amendment," said Blackman. "So, this is all very novel. This is an obscure provision, the Constitution, which no one ever thought about before today, but here we are."

Blackman also said it is unlikely the 14th Amendment will be used on any members of Congress given the required two-thirds majority vote.

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