After the civil war, Klansmen were prosecuted – and Confederate traitors forced from office – by the same laws Trump has now run afoul of

On Tuesday, in response to the federal case brought by special prosecutor Jack Smith over Trump’s alleged role in the January 6 insurrection, Trump threatened a new round of violence – or “bedlam” – if he loses the election. In early February, the US supreme court will also rule on the Colorado supreme court’s decision to disqualify Trump from the state’s ballot for his part in the insurrection.

The two cases might appear to be disconnected, but they are inseparable in law and history. They are united by Congress’s Reconstruction-era action to enforce the 14th amendment’s extension of constitutional rights against the former Confederates’ campaign of racial and political violence – the Ku Klux Klan Acts of 1870 and 1871.

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