North Carolina voters contest Cawthorn’s January 6 candidacy | New policies

By GARY D. ROBERTSON, Associated Press

RALEIGH, North Carolina (AP) – A group of North Carolina voters told state officials on Monday that they wanted U.S. Representative Madison Cawthorn disqualified as a congressional candidate, citing her involvement in January’s rally in Washington questioning the outcome of the presidential election before a riot on Capitol Hill later that day.

Lawyers have filed a challenge to the Republican’s candidacy on behalf of 11 voters with the State Electoral Council, which oversees a process by which a candidate’s qualifications are reviewed. Voters argue Cawthorn, who formally applied for the 13th District seat last month, cannot run because he fails to comply with a U.S. Constitution amendment ratified shortly after the Civil War .

The 1868 Amendment says that no one can serve in Congress “who, having previously been sworn in, as a member of Congress.” . . to support the Constitution of the United States, will have engaged in an insurrection or a rebellion against it.

The written challenge says the events of January 6, 2021 “constituted an insurgency” and that Cawthorn’s speech at the rally in support of President Donald Trump, his other comments and information in published reports provide a “reasonable suspicion or belief” that ‘he helped facilitate the insurgency and is therefore disqualified.

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“It is essential to uphold the fundamental constitutional principle that oath-breakers who engage in insurgency cannot be trusted in a future term,” Ron Fein, legal director of Free Speech for People, a group National Election Funding Reform and Election Campaigns Supporting the Challenge. election, told The Associated Press.

Fein said the Cawthorn challenge will be the first in a series of others they plan to file against other members of Congress associated with the insurgency in the near future. Free Speech for the People and the Our Revolution Group announced last week that they would urge state election administrators to ban Trump and members of Congress from appearing on future polls

The “primary national precedent” for such cases was set in 1869 by the Supreme Court of North Carolina, which described the meaning of “initiate” when it is a disqualifying act of insurgency or rebellion. under the 14th Amendment, the record says.

A text message to Cawthorn and an email to a spokesperson for the congressman asking for comment on the candidate’s challenge were not immediately returned on Monday. State law states that Cawthorn has the onus of “showing by a preponderance of evidence” that he is qualified to appear.

Cawthorn, 26, became the youngest member of Congress after his November 2020 election in the Far West 11th District and became a social media favorite of Trump supporters. He plans to run in a new congressional district that seems more Republican-friendly. He officially filed nomination papers with the state Electoral Council last month, just before filing was suspended amid redistribution lawsuits pending.

The challenge asks council to create a panel of five county members from the proposed 13th district to hear the challenge. The panel’s decision can be appealed to the Council of State and later to a court.

The 11 voters, identified in additional documents filed with the council, are from four counties in the new 13th District, which stretches from the state’s foothills in the east to parts of Charlotte.

Speaking on the “Save America Rally” on the morning of the riot, days after being sworn in in Congress, Cawthorn said “the crowd is struggling to fight.”

“The Democrats, with all the frauds they committed in this election, the Republicans who are hiding and not fighting, they are trying to silence your voice,” he added. “Make no mistake, they don’t want you to be overheard.”

Cawthorn voted against certifying Biden’s presidential victory, although he later signed a letter with other GOP congressmen congratulating Biden. Cawthorn said he had a constitutional duty to vote against him. He condemned the violence on Capitol Hill, but compared it to the summer 2020 protests against police brutality. Yet last summer Cawthorn warned North Carolina of a potential “bloodshed” in future elections which he said could “continue to be stolen” and asked if Biden was “consciously elected” .

The challengers also asked the board to let them interrogate Cawthorn under oath in a deposition before the regional panel meeting, and to subpoena him and others for documents.

“It’s easy to deny something on Twitter or in a speech to supporters,” Fein said. “But we look forward to questioning him under oath.”

Bob Orr, a former North Carolina Supreme Court justice who helped bring the challenge forward, said it was not enough to resolve Cawthorn’s future through the outcome of the upcoming election.

“While I understand the ‘let the voters decide’ argument, the Constitution does not say ‘let the voters decide whether they are absolutely and irrevocably excluded from the exercise of their office’,” said Orr, a former Republican. become independent who lives in the current district of Cawthorn. John Wallace, a longtime lawyer for Democratic causes in North Carolina, also filed the challenge.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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