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Cawthorn sues N.C. Board of Elections over attempt to disqualify him

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.

Leave a comment

7 comments

  • More rotten, lying cheating bureaucrats doing whatever it takes to stop a MAGA Republican from winning. If they don't let him on the ballot, WRITE HIM IN.

    posted by Heather Blanton

    Friday, 02/11/2022

  • Cawthorn may have opened a really interesting situation in case law, first of all testing the NC law itself, and then introducing the demand that he testify under oath as to his participation at then President Trump's rally that incited his followers with an arguably seditious speech to commit riot and insurrection that resulted in serious bodily injury to 140 Capitol police officers including one brutal bludgeoning death of an officer by those incited by Trump, and possibly by Cawthorn himself.
    The trial(s) may cause testimony that will pull in President Trump's rally speech and place it under legal examination by court(s) of law. Cawthorn mistakes the First Amendment freedom of speech, as it is a well-understood exception that free speech may not be a protection if speech advocates illegal acts or inspires violence against civilian authority, violence that did occur, and violence that will be entered into testimony in court.
    Lastly, federal court will say that Cawthorn's suit is premature, both because he did not sue first in state court, and he has not suffered damage, yet, so it is hypothetical and thus not justiciable.

    posted by Bruce Hogman

    Wednesday, 02/09/2022

  • Were the 11 NC voters filing this lawsuit vetted as having no political bias. I suspect not.

    posted by Brevard Brown

    Wednesday, 02/09/2022

  • We’re the 11 NC voters filing this lawsuit vetted as having no political bias. I suspect not.

    posted by Brevard Brown

    Wednesday, 02/09/2022

  • People choosing their representatives -- yes! Agree that this should be so. Unfortunately....gerrymandering allows representatives to choose their constituents. Also unfortunately, Cawthorn is an insurrectionist. The January 6 committee is working its way through the list. Cawthorn should be honored to testify under oath about his pro-democracy actions that day (and the months before and after). To close, please do not follow Cawthorn's recommendation on limited schooling / dropping out of college OR on stocking up on ammo to kill fellow Americans who disagree with him/you. He really isn't qualified to serve in Congress.

    posted by Susan Kumpf

    Thursday, 02/03/2022

  • Interesting that this is posted under "News" rather than "Opinion," as the writer concludes (without support) that "this suit seeks to enjoin the NCSBE from employing unconstitutional provisions of North Carolina election law to remove him (Cawthorn) from the ballot as a Candidate." Really? Wonder where the author, who didn't even have the courage to put his or her name on this "news" article, got their law degree?

    This dubious legal scholar also cites the requirements of the civil Challenge Statute, then states that "This burden shifting turns our legal system on its head, requiring someone prove his “innocence” when challenged." Um, hate to tell you, but the presumption of innocence applies to criminal, not civil, cases.

    Please try to do a better job of at least trying to hide your obvious Republican bias.

    posted by Brad

    Wednesday, 02/02/2022

  • I am surprised that the writer states the attempt to hold Madison Cawthorne accountable for his acts by applying the laws of North Carolina and the state constitution is an unconstitutional act. I hope this is simply a mistake in wording rather than intentional misinformation to your readers. Each state elects its own congresspeople. If the state constitution says someone is not eligible to run, the US house has no say in the matter. The only time Article 1 Section 5 comes into play is when there is a challenge to the state-declared winner of an election to the Senate or House. States have always held the right to set qualifications for public office and many other jobs. If the state says he can not run in an election he is unable to contest the results in the US House. As regards the claim that Section 3 of the US Constitution no longer applies, any congressperson should know that importantly, the 1872 Act did not invalidate or remove Section 3 of the amendment, as Congress cannot change the Constitution with a simple statute. By putting the word, "unconstitutional" in the first sentence of this article it is making a judgment on this attempt to hold Madison Cawthorne accountable for his actions. The media has enough problems with accusations of "Fake" news and opinions published as facts.

    posted by walter cook

    Wednesday, 02/02/2022

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