North Carolina Voters Challenge Madison Cawthorn’s Candidacy

A group of voters in North Carolina has filed paperwork seeking to disqualify Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-North Carolina) from appearing on the ballot as a congressional candidate in this year’s midterm elections, citing the lawmaker’s incendiary comments in the hours leading up to the January 6 Capitol breach.

Cawthorn has filed to run in North Carolina’s newly-created 13th congressional district this fall. However, some voters from the state believe that he shouldn’t be allowed to run due to his activities on the day the U.S. Capitol building was attacked by a mob of loyalists to former President Donald Trump. These voters asserted that a provision within the Constitution prevents him from qualifying for candidacy.

Cawthorn, an ardent Trump loyalist, spoke at the former president’s rally outside of the White House that morning. The North Carolina Republican was a guest speaker during his speech. repeated many of Trump’s lies regarding the election, wrongly claiming that Democrats committed “fraud” in the 2020 presidential race to secure a win for President Joe Biden.

Democrats and Republicans who refused to stand with Trump “are trying to silence your voice,” Cawthorn told the crowd that day. “Make no mistake about it, they do not want you to be heard.”

Cawthorn also appeared to encourage the crowd’s violent behavior, lauding the fact that Trump’s loyalists “had some fight” in them. Many of those loyalists attacked Congress hours later during its certification process for the 2020 presidential race.

Cawthorn was a key player in the attack on Capitol. This week, eleven voters filed paperwork seeking to disqualify Cawthorn from Congress. They cited Section 3 of the 14th Amendment. This provision was ratified by Congress in 1868. bars any person from serving in Congress (among other roles) if they’ve previously taken an oath as a federal lawmaker or officer and later “engaged in insurrection or rebellion against” the United States, “or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof.”

The voters’ challenge asserts that the events of January 6, 2021, “amounted to an insurrection,” and that Cawthorn’s speech demonstrating support for Trump and false allegations of fraud provide a “reasonable suspicion or belief” that he helped those who sought to interfere in the election certification process, thereby breaking his oath to the Constitution.

The North Carolina Board of Elections should establish a five-member panel that represents each of the five counties that the 13th District encompasses. This panel will be responsible for deciding whether Cawthorn should run again.

“The importance of defending the bedrock constitutional principle that oath breakers who engage in insurrection cannot be trusted in future office is essential to maintain,” said Ron Fein, legal director of Free Speech for People, a group backing the challenge to Cawthorn’s candidacy.

The voters’ bid is a longshot, as the provision was included in the amendment primarily to deal with the aftermath of the Civil War. However, legal scholars have suggested that this was possible following the Capitol breach on January 6. the provision could potentially apply to Trump loyalists in CongressWho supported the attack.