Article II of the United States Constitution creates the framework for the Executive Branch. Section 1 states the qualifications for the president – must be a natural-born citizen, 35 years of age, and have been a resident of the U.S. for at least fourteen years – while Section 4 states that “the President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” Whether in Article II or anywhere else in the U.S. Constitution, there is no statement barring a felon from running for office, even the presidency.
In wake of the news about the indictment of former President Donald Trump, this question has been floating around the discourse. In short, Trump is still eligible to be a presidential candidate. If charged with a felony (depending on the state where the candidate is registered to vote), someone can run for president while simultaneously being unable to vote for themselves. Moreso, someone can even run for president while incarcerated – take Eugen Debs for example. Debs ran for office in 1920 while serving his sentence for violating the Sedition Act of 1918 and the Espionage Act of 1917 for his public denunciation against U.S. participation in World War I. If Debs could do it, so could Trump. Only time can tell if we will see another presidential campaign occur from behind bars.