Cawthorn sues N.C. Board of Elections over attempt to disqualify him
On Monday, Rep. Madison Cawthorn, who serves in the U.S. House of Representatives for North Carolina’s 11th congressional district, filed suit in federal court against the members of the North Carolina State Board of Elections over what he deems an unconstitutional attempt to disqualify him for reelection.
Recently, a group of Challengers filed a complaint with the NCSBE attempting to disqualify him from reelection. They alleged that Cawthorn “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 Cawthorn Challenge was based upon claims that Cawthorn engaged in “insurrection or rebellion” against the United States on January 6th and was, therefore, not qualified to be a Member of Congress under the U.S. Constitution. Cawthorn vigorously denies that he “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” against the United States, and this suit seeks to enjoin the NCSBE from employing unconstitutional provisions of North Carolina election law to remove him from the ballot as a Candidate.
Under North Carolina law, a Challenger can challenge someone’s qualifications to run for office based only on a reasonable suspicion or belief that the facts stated disqualify the Candidate from running for office and then the Candidate bears the burden of proof to show that he is qualified to run for office. This burden shifting turns our legal system on its head, requiring someone prove his “innocence” when challenged.
Cawthorn, therefore, claims the Challenge Statute: (1) violates his First Amendment rights by triggering a government investigation based solely upon a Challenger’s “reasonable suspicion”; (2) violates his Due Process rights under the Fourteenth Amendment by shifting the burden of proof onto him to prove he didn’t engage in an “insurrection or rebellion;” (3) is unconstitutional because it overrides the U.S. House of Representative’s exclusive power to determine the qualifications for its Members; and (4) violates federal law because the “disqualification clause,” Section Three of the Fourteenth Amendment no longer applies to current Congressional Members, because of the Amnesty Act of 1872.
“Running for office is not only a great privilege, it is a right protected under the Constitution,” said Rep. Cawthorn. “I love this country and have never engaged in, or would ever engage in, an insurrection against the United States. Regardless of this fact, the Disqualification clause and North Carolina’s Challenge Statute is being used as a weapon by liberal Democrats to attempt to defeat our democracy by having state bureaucrats, rather than the People, choose who will represent North Carolina in Congress. I’m defending not only my rights, but the right of the People to democratically elect their representatives.”
“North Carolina’s law is unjust and unconstitutional as applied to Rep. Cawthorn,” said James Bopp, Jr., of The Bopp Law Firm, lead counsel for Rep. Cawthorn. “The Challenge Statute violates fundamental principles of rights to free speech, due process, and federal law. Requiring someone to prove he didn’t do something based upon the barest of “suspicions” is patently unfair and unconstitutional. But more fundamentally, the People should decide who represents them, no state bureaucrats in Raleigh.”
“But ominously, this is not an isolated effort,” said Bopp. “Marc Elias, the Democrat lawyer behind the Trump Russia hoax, announced a few months ago a nation-wide effort to disqualify about two dozen Republican Members of Congress under this bizarre legal theory. Rep. Cawthorn is just the tip of Elias’ spear. Of course, this would mean that some two dozen Democrats might be running without a Republican nominee, cementing Democrats’ control of Congress. This decidable effort needs to be stopped here and now and Rep. Cawthorn has pledged to do everything necessary to do so.”
The complaint and related Preliminary Injunction Memorandum is available on The Bopp Law Firm, PC’s website here.