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Myles Lynch L’20 explores federal and state official qualifications in forthcoming article in the William & Mary Bill of Rights Journal

September 14, 2021

Lynch explores the provision that prohibits those who have violated their oath to uphold our Constitution from holding any federal or state office.

Myles Lynch L’20 has received notification that his article, “Disloyalty & Disqualification: Restructuring Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment” will be published in an upcoming volume of the William & Mary Bill of Rights Journal.

Lynch delves into a section of the list of qualifications for president rarely discussed: that those who have violated their oath to uphold our Constitution can be disqualified from holding not only the office of president but also any public office under the United States or any state.

The article revives the third section of the Fourteenth Amendment and shows that, for people who have previously taken an oath to support the Constitution as officers of the United States or any state, “seemingly innocuous things … may prevent people from [holding public office].” It “unearths Section 3’s scant history and draws parallels with similar constitutional and common-law concepts” to reconstruct the provision and develop a workable framework for its application by states, federal courts, and Congress.

In doing so, the article recognizes that “Section 3 is powerful and facially vague, making it an especially attractive cudgel for political warfare” and cautions that “history and practice have clearly delineated certain limiting principles that should be maintained to limit its abuse.”

Lynch is currently a term law clerk at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, his second of three clerkships. At the Law School, Myles was Editor-in-Chief of the University of Pennsylvania Journal of Constitutional Law, a member of the executive board for the school’s chapter of the Federalist Society, and the Penn Law National Security Society, and a recipient of the Exceptional Pro Bono Service award, which is given to students who perform over 200 hours of pro bono service.

The idea for Lynch’s article arose while he was enrolled in Professor of Law Jean Galbraith’s “Foreign Relations” course. Lynch acknowledged his appreciation for Galbraith’s guidance through the submission process as well as Leon Meltzer Professor of Law and Professor of Philosophy Mitch Berman’s informative comments and suggested edits to early drafts of the paper.

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