May 19, 2022
Legal window closing on activists seeking to boot Cawthorn off the ballot for Jan. 6 riot
Liberal activists, legal scholars and anti-Trump Republicans have hit another legal snag in their attempt to throw conservative firebrand Rep. Madison Cawthorn off the ballot for his alleged role in the Jan. 6 riot. The North Carolina State Board of Elections took “no position” on an emergency appeal to renew the state-level court proceedings on…

Liberal activists, legal scholars and anti-Trump Republicans have hit another legal snag in their attempt to throw conservative firebrand Rep. Madison Cawthorn off the ballot for his alleged role in the Jan. 6 riot.

The North Carolina State Board of Elections took “no position” on an emergency appeal to renew the state-level court proceedings on whether Mr. Cawthorn’s speech at a pro-Trump rally on Jan. 6 was an act of “insurrection.”

A federal appeals court in Virginia is deciding whether to revive the case after a lower court tossed it out in March. The challenge to Mr. Cawthorn’s eligibility for the ballot is based on the Constitution’s 14th Amendment that bars public officials from running after engaging in “insurrection or rebellion” against the U.S.

Mr. Cawthorn’s attorneys argued that the challengers lack standing to appeal the decision and further objected to the “spurious accusations” behind the effort against the congressman.

“Free and fair elections, and our Democratic process, are seriously undermined by allowing state bureaucrats to determine who is qualified to run on the basis of questionable, subjective, and spurious accusations of ‘insurrection,’” Mr. Cawthorn’s lawyers wrote in a court filing Monday. 

A federal judge in Wilmington, North Carolina, ruled that the “disqualification clause” was later rolled back by a mass amnesty law in 1872. The ruling was condemned by the challengers in their appeal who called it a “novel and bizarre statutory interpretation” of the law made by Judge Richard Myers.

North Carolina’s primary elections will be held on May 17, leaving little time for the appeals court to deliberate.

The North Carolina elections board also noted in its court filing that there are statutory deadlines that need to be met if there are candidate challenges, including March 28 when absentee ballots are distributed.

Elections officials told the court it needed a decision by March 21 unless the absentee ballot deadline is extended by the state.

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