The North Carolina State Board of Elections said on Monday that it has the power to block GOP Rep. Madison Cawthorn from running for reelection over his role in the January 6 insurrection – an open legal question at the center of liberal-backed efforts to disqualify him from future office.
The bipartisan election board made the assertion in a court filing in a case Cawthorn brought against the board, hoping to shut down the constitutional challenge to his candidacy.
Liberal activists filed the challenge to his candidacy last month. Their argument revolves around the little-used “disqualification clause” of the US Constitution, which was ratified after the Civil War to prevent Confederate officials and those who supported “insurrection” from returning to office.
Cawthorn, who has denied any wrongdoing regarding January 6, filed a federal lawsuit last week to shut down the challenge. The elections board, in its court filing, said his lawsuit is premature and should be dismissed. The board also said it has the power to disqualify candidates based on constitutional considerations, not just based on state laws.
“States have long enforced age and residency requirements, without question and with very few if any legal challenges,” the board wrote. “The State has the same authority to police which candidates should or should not be disqualified per Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment.”
The case is still pending in federal court. The state-level challenge to Cawthorn’s candidacy was paused while North Carolina draws new congressional maps.
Liberal activists who have mounted the effort to disqualify his candidacy say Cawthorn stoked violence and aided the insurrectionists. Days before the attack on the US Capitol, he said it was “time to fight.” And at the January 6, 2021, rally at the Ellipse, he railed against the “cowards” in Congress who planned to certify Joe Biden’s election victory.