A group of voters in North Carolina have filed a complaint with the state Board of Elections seeking to prevent Republican Representative Madison Cawthorn from running for re-election in 2022, alleging that he took part in an “insurrection” during the January 6th Capitol riot.
The complaint, filed by 11 voters in the newly-redrawn 13th Congressional District, argues that Cawthorn’s remarks at a rally held by former President Donald Trump shortly before the Capitol riot disqualify him from holding office under the 14th Amendment’s Disqualification Clause.
“The Challengers in this action, registered voters in the 13th Congressional District, have reasonable suspicion… that Representative Madison Cawthorn, a candidate for North Carolina’s 13th Congressional District, does not meet the federal constitutional requirements for a Member of the U.S. House of Representatives and is therefore ineligible to be a candidate for such office,” the complaint begins.
The complaint continues, “[u]nder Section Three of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, known as the Disqualification Clause, ‘No Person shall be a . . .Representative in Congress . . . who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress . . . to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same…’ Persons who trigger this constitutional provision are disqualified from congressional office, just as persons who fail to meet the age, citizenship, and residency requirements of Article I, section 2 of the Constitution are disqualified from congressional office.”
The complaint defines an “insurrection” as “actions against the United States with the intent to overthrow the
government of the United States or obstruct an essential constitutional function.” Complainants then allege that “The events of January 6, 2021 amounted to an insurrection or a rebellion under Section Three: a coordinated effort to prevent the Vice President of the United States and the United States Congress from fulfilling their constitutional roles by certifying President Biden’s victory, and to illegally extend then-President Trump’s tenure in office.”
Using a precedent from the North Carolina Supreme Court which says an individual engages in insurrection by “[v]oluntarily aiding the rebellion, by personal service, or by contributions, other than charitable, of any thing that was useful or necessary,” the complainants contend that “planning a demonstration or march upon a government building that the planner knows is substantially likely to (and does) result in insurrection or rebellion,” such as the planned march from President Trump’s speech on the National Mall to the Capitol, constitute engaging in insurrection.
The complainants argue that the Trump rally and subsequent march to the Capitol “led directly, intentionally, and foreseeably to the insurrectionists’ violent assault on the Capitol.” They then contend that they have “reasonable suspicion that Cawthorn was involved in either planning the attack on January 6, or alternatively the planning of the pre-attack demonstration and/or march on the Capitol with the advance knowledge that it was substantially likely to lead to the attack, and otherwise voluntarily aided the insurrection.”
A spokesman for Cawthorn dismissed the complaint.
“Over 245,000 patriots from Western North Carolina elected Congressman Cawthorn to serve them in Washington. A dozen activists who are comically misinterpreting and twisting the 14th amendment for political gain will not distract him from that service,” said spokesman Luke Ball, via The Hill.