Maryland Carey Law Professor Mark Graber is a major voice shaping the national conversation around Donald Trump’s eligibility to run for president in 2024.
The esteemed constitutional law scholar’s work was cited three times in the December 19 opinion by the Colorado Supreme Court barring the former president from appearing on that state’s presidential ballot under the 14th Amendment. Currently, Graber is producing a brief for the U.S. Supreme Court when it takes up the appeal of the Colorado case in February.
Section 3 of the 14th Amendment bars any person from holding federal or state office who took an “oath…to support the Constitution of the United States” and then has “engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof.”
In an amicus brief, Graber offered the Colorado court his expertise on Section 3, clarifying the definitions of “insurrection,” “engaging in insurrection,” and “officer” as they were conceived by the amendment’s framers.
Citations to the brief and other scholarly work by Graber were used to support the court's ruling that the president is an “officer” under the United States Constitution and that Section 3 of the 14th Amendment applies to the president. The ruling also affirmed that Trump engaged in insurrection on and leading up to January 6, 2021.
Moreover, Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellows cited Graber in her December 28 decision to remove Trump from Maine’s primary ballot. Trump lawyers have appealed that decision to a Maine state court. The decision is on hold while the Supreme Court considers the Colorado case.
The Colorado and Maine decisions followed another case in which Graber’s work was pivotal. In summer 2022, he was an expert witness in a New Mexico case, which also used Section 3 of the 14th Amendment to bar an official who participated in the January 6th insurrection from elected office. Residents of New Mexico successfully sued to remove county commissioner Couy Griffin from office. Citing Graber, the judge determined that January 6th was an insurrection under the Constitution and that Griffin engaged in that insurrection, making him ineligible for office.
Graber is author of Punish Treason, Reward Loyalty: The Forgotten Goals of Constitutional Reform After the Civil War (Kansas, 2023), which has restored to contemporary memory the goals of those Republican and Unionist members of Congress who drafted the 14th Amendment during Reconstruction. In particular, he argues, "the party of Lincoln” emphasized sections 2, 3, and 4, which they believed would prevent “rebel rule” by ensuring loyal majorities in both the national and state governments.
While the book provides the foundational legal scholarship for the argument against Trump’s eligibility, its content does not directly address the issue. Graber, however, has used his research as a springboard to make the case for Trump’s ineligibility in an increasing stream of work, notably his November 2023 op-ed for The New York Times titled “Donald Trump and the Jefferson Davis Problem.”
Always in high demand for his expertise, Graber has been called upon to provide commentary on local and national media with a marked uptick in frequency since the New Mexico case heightened his national visibility. Likewise, his work has been quoted extensively by journalists and other legal scholars more than ever in the past few months.
Recognized as one of the leading scholars in the country on constitutional law and politics, Graber is the only University System of Maryland Regents Professor on the University of Maryland, Baltimore campus. He is the author of multiple books and more than 100 articles. He has been a visiting faculty member at Harvard University, Yale Law School, the University of Virginia School of Law, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Toronto, the University of Oregon School of Law, and Simon Reichman University.
In 2023, Graber was recognized with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 119th American Political Science Association (APSA) annual meeting in Los Angeles.
Below are some of Graber's recent media appearances: