Feb 1, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Cawthorn sues N.C. elections board over re-election challenge

Picture of Madison Hawthorn
Rep. Madison Cawthorn. Photo: Dylan Hollingsworth/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.) sued members of the North Carolina State Board of Elections on Monday, saying it does not have the authority to prevent him from running for re-election.

Driving the news: North Carolina voters in January petitioned the NCSBE to disqualify Cawthorn from running because of his involvement in the rally that preceded the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection.

  • That challenge argues Cawthorn's speech at the rally, which questioned the result of the presidential election, bars him from running for office under the 14th Amendment, which bars people from holding office if they've "engaged in insurrection or rebellion."

Details: Cawthorn in his lawsuit does not address the voters' specific allegations but denies participating in an insurrection and says running for office is a "quintessential First Amendment activity and afforded great protection," and that the voters' challenge is "unconstitutional."

  • The lawsuit also argues that state law allowing for challenges to be brought against candidates is unconstitutional.

The NCSBE declined to comment, saying it doesn't comment on ongoing litigation.

The big picture: Cawthorn has repeatedly supported conspiracy theories about who was responsible for the Jan. 6 Capitol attack.

  • In a recent interview with the Daily Caller, the lawmaker alleged that "some federal groups" were involved in the attack: "There are a lot of situations where we heard that the FBI and other agencies had prior knowledge that some of these things were going to be happening."
  • There is no evidence that proves that the federal government initiated the riot.

Editor's note: This story was updated to add that the NCSBE declined to comment.

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