Does a Criminal Conviction Bar You From Running for U.S. President?

On May 30, 2024, former President Donald Trump was convicted on 34 counts of falsifying business records. This is the first time a former president has been indicted on federal charges, though at least two other former presidents have done far worse. According to federal statute 18 U.S. Code § 2071, anyone found in possession of top-secret files would not only be subject to fines and jail time but would also "be disqualified from holding any office under the United States.” So, does that mean for Donald Trump would receive a lifetime ban from the White House? Not so fast, say legal experts. Under the U.S. Constitution, which lays out the qualifications for holding the nation's highest office, the only limitations are that you must be a U.S. citizen and at least 35 years old. It's really hard to disqualify someone from running for president, even a convicted criminal. Federal laws, and the consequences for breaking them, are written by Congress, but Congress doesn't have the final word. Even a federal law that's been on the books for decades can still be struck down by the Supreme Court if it's found to be in violation of the Constitution. The odds are very good that the Supreme Court justices would strike down the "disqualification" part as unconstitutional and let the person run for office.