Far-right Congressman Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina recently announced that he'd be running in North Carolina's 13th District, rather than the 11th District that elected him in 2020. The move was in light of a newly-redrawn map in the state that would put Cawthorn's current home in the 14th District, a competitive region for Democrats.
Now, a group of voters in the 13th District are urging election officials to disqualify Cawthorn's candidacy, citing his embrace of former President Donald Trump's election lies, particularly during a speech he gave at the Save America rally shortly before the deadly failed insurrection of January 6.
The letter, backed by the group Free Speech for People, says Cawthorn disqualified himself from candidacy under a constitutional amendment ratified shortly after the Civil War which states that no one “having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress . . . to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same.”
It goes on to cite a North Carolina Supreme Court decision concluding that "engaged" in this context meant “[v]oluntarily aiding the rebellion, by personal service, or by contributions, other than charitable, of any thing that was useful or necessary.”
The letter argues that:
"Planning or helping plan an insurrection or rebellion satisfies that definition. So does planning a demonstration or march upon a government building that the planner knows is substantially likely to (and does) result in insurrection or rebellion, as it constitutes taking voluntary steps to contribute, 'by personal service,' a 'thing that was useful or necessary' to the insurrection or rebellion. And knowing that insurrection or rebellion was likely makes that aid voluntary."
During his speech at the Save America rally, Cawthorn praised the "fight" in the spectators, many of whom would storm the Capitol just hours later.
He also said:
"[T]he Democrats, with all the fraud they have done in this election, the Republicans hiding and not fighting, they are trying to silence your voice. Make no mistake about it, they do not want you to be heard. But my friends, when I look out into this crowd, I can confidently say, this crowd has the voice of lions. There is a new Republican Party on the rise that will represent this country, that will go and fight in Washington D.C."
Cawthorn has frequently suggested violence may be necessary to achieve a theocratic conservative state. He's spoke of the need for blood to be spilt and the possibility of "Second Amendment solutions."
The effort to force Cawthorn off the ballot is a longshot, but social media users are applauding it.
A spokesperson for Free Speech for People has said Cawthorn's is just the first of many candidacies they intend to challenge—another effort that saw widespread support.
Cawthorn's office has insisted that the group challenging his candidacy is "comically misinterpreting and twisting the 14th amendment for political gain."