The bipartisan North Carolina State Board of Elections has stated that it has the power to disqualify incumbent Madison Cawthorn from running in the upcoming election for his part in the January 6 insurrection.
The assertion was made in a court filing for the case Cawthorn brought in hopes of stopping the constitutional challenge to his ability to run for reelection, which has been brought by a group of progressive North Carolina voters who feel he should be disqualified from running due his involvement in Trump's "Stop the Steal" rally on January 6th and his contributions to riling up the Capitol rioters.
The basis for the effort: Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution, the "disqualification clause," which, states:
"No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, 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, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof."
This clause was added to the Constitution after the American Civil War to prevent Confederate officials from returning to the offices they once occupied. It is now being used to argue that Cawthorn is no longer qualified to run for the office he currently occupies because he supported the insurrection after having taken his oath of office.
After he initially filed suit against the Elections Board, Cawthorn said:
"Running for office is not only a great privilege, it is a right protected under the Constitution. 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."
The filing from the North Carolina Board of Elections fired back at Cawthorn:
"The State does not judge the qualifications of the elected members of the U.S. House of Representative. It polices candidate qualifications prior to the elections."
"In doing so, as indicated above, States have long enforced age and residency requirements, without question and with very few if any legal challenges. The State has the same authority to police which candidates should or should not be disqualified per Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment."
Shortly after the filing, during an interview with Steve Bannon on his War Room podcast, Cawthorn hinted that things might get violent if he is disqualified.
He told Bannon:
"This is only going to lead to one place if you want to try and take the right of the people away to be able to vote for their elected official. This is going down a very dangerous path."
He also told Bannon that he had no regrets about his actions on January 6 and how proud he was about having spoken at the rally before the violence broke out.
"They are specifically arguing that I engaged in insurrection or incited some kind of violence here on Jan. 6. Now as you know, I was very proud to go speak at the Stop the Steal rally. I was very proud to debate on behalf of Wisconsin and try and block the electors in that state."
"And apparently that -- even though it's a constitutionally protected right for me to do that as a congressman from North Carolina -- they're saying that that disqualifies me."
You can see Cawthorn's interview with Bannon below:
Madison Cawthorn reacts after NC officials claim power to disqualify him from ballotwww.youtube.com
Twitter users seemed hopeful that Cawthorn would be barred from running.
Many were outraged about Cawthorn's conversation with Bannon.
It remains to be seen whether Cawthorn will face consequences for his actions on January 6, and whether he will ultimately be barred from running to keep his Congressional seat. But it's clear that the bipartisan state election board believes they have the absolute right to.