Madison Cawthorn is a 26 year-old real-estate investor and was elected in North Carolina to the 11th Congressional District. In 2020. This Republican politician has been one of many who support Donald Trump’s myth that Joe Biden stole his presidency. Cawthorn has embraced the stop the steal movement. His opponents want to block him from running for reelection in 2020. They argue that he was disqualified from the Congress due to his “insurrection against the U.S. Constitution” by encouraging the Capitol riot.
The claim is so farfetched that it implies many of Cawthorn’s Congress colleagues are similarly barred from federal office. This is because North Carolina has a low threshold in order to block allegedly disqualified candidate from being on the ballot. When a challenger provides evidence to support a “reasonable suspicion or belief” that a candidate “does not meet the constitutional…qualifications for the office,” the candidate has the burden of showing “by a preponderance of the evidence” that he is in fact qualified. Cawthorn must “prove” that he has the qualifications, according to voters challenging his candidacy. NotParticipated in the January 6th, 2021 insurrection.”
Josh Blackman, a South Texas College of Law Professor, noted some of those legal hurdles earlier in the month. Cawthorn is seen as an insurrectionist because of his support for Trump’s cause. The challengers say that Cawthorn spoke out in favor of Trump, and this led to “directly, deliberately, and foreseeably” to insurrectionists attacking the Capitol. Cawthorn did not endorse violence against Biden’s election, even if you agree that his inflammatory rhetoric falls under the same category of taking up arms against government.
Section 3 of the 14th Amendment says “no person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress…or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States…who, having previously taken an oath…to support the Constitution of the United States…shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same.” This section also states that Congress has the power to “remove such disability” through a vote of two-thirds in both the Senate or House.
Although the provision initially targeted Confederacy supporters in its original form, Congress eventually approved letting them serve in both the House and Senate. As such, Section 3’s history does not reveal its full reach. Gerard Magliocca from Indiana University wrote that Section Three was not “disappearing” in 2020.[ed]After the postbellum dispute over how to handle former Confederate leaders, this is “from Constitution Law”.
Magliocca reconsidered the relevance of Section 3 to the Capitol Riot in January 2021. This is a LawfareHe stated in an essay that he could not find “any particularly helpful authority” to answer the question about what constitutes “insurrection.” He said that everyone understood the Confederacy insurrection of the 1860s to 1870s. No thought was given as to other possible insurrections.
Magliocca felt that the Capitol riot was itself plausibly considered an “insurrection” since the “mob was trying to halt or overturn an essential constitutional function at its seat of government. It can reasonable be described as an effort to replace law and force.” Other rioters were also charged with criminal acts. This can reasonably be considered an attack against the legislature and the government in general.
Magliocca, however, rejected the notion that Cawthorn or other lawmakers could be expelled under Section 3 because they had backed Trump’s election fraud claims. His letter stated that “just opposing the certification should not lead to expulsion under Section 3.” Simply voting against the certification of certain electoral votes or speaking out to explain them is not enough. These actions should not be subject to expulsion. The Speech and Debate clause is meant to protect them from extreme sanctions. They were also participating in an established legal procedure and protesting as they have done in the past. They did not break the rules. Cawthorn was not in violation of the rules. However, Cawthorn is being sued for his involvement in electoral-vote contests.
Cawthorn is also mentioned in the suit as having supported the “stop the theft” rally which preceded the Capitol Riot. He said, “January 6th has fast approaching.” tweetedJust two days before the rally. “The actions of just a few will decide the fate of the Republic. Your and my shoulders will determine the fate of this nation. Washington needs to see that Washington has backbones made of titanium and steel. Now is the time to win.
Cawthorn delivered similar remarks at the rally, as did Rep. Mo Brooks (R–Ala.). Magliocca stated that Brooks could have a Section 3 Problem depending on his interpretation of the words and whether inciting an uprising is equal to engaging. Do you think that Cawthorn may have a Section 3 issue? You can only think of it as engaging in insurrection if you give credence Trump’s claims, and urge his supporters to “make our voices heard.”
Cawthorn stated to Trump’s followers, “Wow. This crowd has some fight.” “The courage I see in this crowd is not represented on that hill….The Democrats, all the fraud they have done in this election, the Republicans hiding and not fighting—they are trying to silence your voice. You will not be heard, they won’t make any excuses.
Cawthorn compared his courage to the pity of Republican friends who would not recognize Biden’s win. He stated that at 12 o’clock in the morning, “we will contest the election.” My friends, you should be aware that there are significant portions of our party who believe we shouldn’t do anything but sit back and watch. They have no backbone!…We’re not doing this just for Donald Trump. We’re doing it for the Constitution. Our Constitution was violated!…My friends, I encourage you, go back to your states after today, hold your representatives accountable, make sure that they stood up for election integrity and make your voices heard.”
Cawthorn’s speech, which was full of the clichés that politicians favor and the baseless insinuations that Trump’s supporters tend to echo, may have been insipid and irresponsible, but it was not an incitement to insurrection. This interpretation depends on how you read it. FightLiterally, rather than metaphorically. Cawthorn used “Make your voices heard” to call for violence. He also said that “contesting election,” which was clearly about the electoral-vote challenges in context, meant that Trump supporters would enter the Capitol and assault officers and terrorize members of Congress.
Interview on Carlos Watson ShowCawthorn stated that his objections against Biden’s electoral votes were focused on Wisconsin where there had been “some constitutional violations about how they conducted their elections.” Cawthorn disavowed Trump’s bolder claims like the suggestion that Dominion election machines were rigged, or that trucks delivered fraudulently-marked ballots. He insisted that he didn’t attempt to contribute to this narrative.
Cawthorn did not make such distinctions in his rally speech. He decried all the fraudulent acts of Democrats. Cawthorn clearly contributed to that narrative by attending a rally that was predicated upon the idea that Trump won the election.
But another distinction Cawthorn drew in that interview—between peaceful protest and violent interference with congressional certification of the election results—is not so easily dismissed. His statement was “Obviously, what took place on January 6, I find despicable.” It was a group of weak-minded people, unable to control their worst impulses. They also had little self-control. [I]It’s utterly condemned.
Cawthorn made remarks about political violence at an August meeting of Republicans in Macon County (North Carolina) last August, which are contrary to the disclaimers. He stated that the Second Amendment wasn’t written to allow us to go hunting and shoot shooting clays. “The Second Amendment was designed to help us fight against tyranny,” he said. This is the kind of rhetoric you hear often from politicians supporting gun rights. It’s obvious that Cawthorn wasn’t referring to violently resisting Biden’s election.
Cawthorn made the comment that “if election systems keep being rigged and stolen, then it will eventually lead to one thing, and that is bloodshed.” He then added, “As much I want to defend liberty at any cost, it’s not something that I fear more than taking up arms against another American.” We can only have recourse to that if all of us passionately insist that all 50 US states have election security. This again isn’t incitement to violence, nor does it count as engaging in the insurrection.
People who want to exclude Cawthorn may think he intended to cause a riot, but they can still claim plausible deniability. That interpretation suggests that Cawthorn has more insight and foresight in this regard than what he displayed so far during his political career. This is the kind of judgement that voters should make. They can choose whether Trump’s sycophant manipulates reality to his advantage.