Monica Lewinsky Calls for Presidential Age Limits and Ban on Self-Pardons – Monica Lewinsky is advocating for elected officials to face mandatory retirement ages and for the prohibition of presidential self-pardons. The former White House intern, known for her involvement in the affair that led to President Bill Clinton’s 1998 impeachment, expressed these views in a Vanity Fair opinion piece published on Monday.
As a political activist and writer, Lewinsky mentioned that her editorial was prompted by ongoing debates on whether the 14th amendment of the US Constitution prevents individuals involved in an insurrection from holding public office. Without explicitly mentioning him, Donald Trump recently sought to challenge a Colorado court decision.
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The ruling concluded that the former president played a role in inciting the January 6 attack by his supporters, branding it as an insurrection. Despite this, the court did not disqualify him from running for the Oval Office in 2024. Lewinsky said it was “bonkers” that the 14th amendment – which is otherwise known for extending equal protection under the law to all people within the US – “is the only place that addresses the disqualification of a candidate for such behavior”.
“How. Is. This. Possible? Why don’t we have more protections?” Lewinsky wrote in Monday’s piece, in which she described herself as “a constitutional nerd” who then began researching amendments. Expressing surprise, she discovered that Congress ratified the 27th and latest constitutional amendment as recently as 1992.
In her view, the amendment’s impact seemed underwhelming, as it primarily clarified that proposed congressional salary increases would only be implemented in the subsequent legislative term. But she later realized that in the century before the so-called compensation amendment, Congress added changes to the constitution “every 10 to 20 years or so”.
She said this prompted her to conclude: “It’s time. We are overdue for some constitutional upgrades.” At the forefront of around six suggested amendments, Lewinsky’s article advocates for a clear prohibition on presidential self-pardons. Trump, currently confronting over 90 pending criminal charges related to undermining the 2020 election, could, in theory, use the untested legal concept of self-pardon if convicted and re-elected.
“Our constitution is not a game of Monopoly,” Lewinsky wrote. “For the head of the executive branch, there should not be a ‘get out of jail free’ card.” Further down in Lewinsky’s article, though still prominently emphasized, is the proposal to establish term limits and a maximum age for elected officials. She supported this notion, in part, by pointing out the existing minimum age requirements for U.S. House members, senators, and presidents – 25, 30, and 35, respectively.
“There are arguments to be made for experience,” Lewinsky wrote while alluding to the advanced ages of Trump (77) and Biden (81). “But for elected officials there is a point at which such qualifications risk being overshadowed by mental calcification and cultural deafness.” Additional amendments proposed by Lewinsky include the abandonment of the electoral college system, which determines presidential elections instead of relying on a popular vote.
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Another suggested amendment seeks to reaffirm women’s reproductive freedoms, responding to the 2022 U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v Wade. Clinton, who was 49 at the time, faced impeachment for lying about his affair with Lewinsky, who was 22. The Senate ultimately acquitted Clinton.
Since then, Lewinsky has obtained a master’s degree from the London School of Economics and has been actively involved in combating cyberbullying. Reflecting on the scandal that surrounded Clinton’s impeachment, she has spoken about being publicly demonized and humiliated, emphasizing the lack of the same power and influence that shielded the then-president.