A group of North Carolina voters took dramatic legal action against Rep. Madison Cawthorn’s (R-N.C.) reelection bid on Monday, arguing that the Constitution prohibits insurrectionist lawmakers from holding office.
The nonprofit Free Speech For People filed a challenge with the North Carolina State Board of Elections on behalf of 11 North Carolina voters, stating that Cawthorn has violated Section 3 of the 14th Amendment. Section 3 says that no person may hold political office “who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress … shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion.” The section was initially aimed at lawmakers who had plotted or battled against the U.S. government during the Civil War.
The challenge says Cawthorn urged his supporters to “threaten” and “intimidate” members of Congress from certifying the results of the 2020 presidential election. It also notes that Cawthorn and his staff were “in close contact” with organizers of the Jan. 6 rally that preceded the storming of the U.S. Capitol, and that Cawthorn himself spoke at that rally that day.
Efforts to halt the certification of the 2020 presidential election results “amounted to an insurrection,” the challenge adds.
“Publicly available evidence, including Rep. Cawthorn’s statements and reports that he or his office coordinated with the Jan. 6 organizers, establish reasonable suspicion that Rep. Cawthorn aided the insurrection, thereby disqualifying him from federal office,” said Ron Fein, legal director of Free Speech For People.
Cawthorn did not deny the accusations in the suit, but complained he was being attacked by “left-wing activists.” He tweeted: “I won’t be stopped. Help me fight back!”
He later added: “The woke mob won’t stop me.”
A handful of Democratic politicians and some constitutional law experts believe the 14th Amendment could also be used to stop Donald Trump from running for president again.
Trump told supporters at the Jan. 6 rally to march on the Capitol, “If you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.” It took him more than three hours to take any action to quell the violence at the Capitol that erupted after the rally.
Cawthorn, who’s running in the newly created 13th Congressional District, has vigorously pushed baseless claims of a rigged presidential election and has also urged the use of violence.
He gloated in November after teenager Kyle Rittenhouse was acquitted in Wisconsin of fatally shooting two protesters and injuring a third, urging all Americans to “be armed, be dangerous.”