WASHINGTON — A judge on Friday blocked a new election challenge that seeks to disqualify North Carolina’s Representative Madison Cawthorn from reelection by calling him an insurgent, issuing an equally new injunction that appealed to a post-insurgency law. the civil war that forgave Confederate soldiers and sympathizers.
U.S. District Judge Richard E. Myers II, an appointee of President Donald J. Trump, intervened to suppress an attempt by North Carolina attorneys and voters who filed a motion with the state electoral council in which Mr. Cawthorn, 26, did not qualify. for re-election under the Constitution. They had alleged that the Republican’s first-term support for rioters who attacked the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, made him an “insurgent” and therefore fired him from office under the little-known third of the 14th Amendment. , adopted during Reconstruction to punish members of the Confederacy.
That section states that “no one” shall “hold any office, civil or military, under the United States or under any state, having previously sworn an oath” to “support the Constitution” when “engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or aid or comfort given to the enemies thereof.”
Judge Myers echoed the argument of James Bopp Jr., a prominent conservative campaign attorney, who noted that Section Three concluded with a warning: “Congress can remove such a handicap by a vote of two-thirds of each House.” The Amnesty Act of 1872 did just that when it stated that “all political handicaps imposed by the Third Section” of the 14th Amendment “were hereby removed from all persons, whoever.”
The ruling angered lawyers in the case who argued that the 1872 Act only applied to Civil War allies, not a future insurgent, and that a law could not appropriate a constitutional amendment.
“According to this court ruling, the Amnesty Act of 1872, through a ploy of wording that—though no one noticed it at the time or in the 150 years since—completely undermined Congress’ careful decision to write the insurgent disqualification clause. future riots,” said Ron Fein, the legal director of Free Speech For People, an organization that helped with the case. “This is downright absurd.”
But Mr Bopp said Friday that because the 14th Amendment applied to past and future uprisings, so did the subsequent amnesty. Judge Myers, a former law professor at the University of North Carolina and clerk to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, agreed.
Mr Fein called for an appeal against the ruling, but the activists who filed the challenge are unable to. Since the injunction was directed against the state, only the North Carolina State Board of Elections or the Attorney General can appeal, and it’s not clear if either will get involved.
The challengers had hoped to at least question Mr. Cawthorn under oath for his role in fueling the violence that erupted in the Capitol on January 6, 2021, and to sympathize with those who carried it out. Cawthorn had encouraged conservatives to gather in Washington that day for a “Save America” rally behind the White House. He had urged Trump supporters to “call your congressman” to protest the official count of Congress’ electoral votes to finalize the 2020 election results, adding: “You can slightly threaten.” And after the riots, Mr. Cawthorn that those imprisoned for the storming of the Capitol were “political hostages” he would like to “break out of prison.”
Mr. Cawthorn turned to federal courts to intervene before the Board of Elections could hold a hearing to determine his eligibility to vote.
The effort to prevent Mr. Cawthorn from running for reelection may now be over.
But Mr Bopp said: “I never underestimate the willingness of lawyers to keep fighting.”