Judge says it's a-okay for Madison Cawthorn to run for re-election

Helping foment an insurrection against the government is evidently not a legal barrier to working for that same government.

Madison Cawthorn at the U.S. Capitol
Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc./Getty Images
Originally Published: 

A grassroots effort to block North Carolina Republican Rep. Madison Cawthorn from running for re-election this November ended ignominiously on Friday, after a federal judge tossed a request that the State Election Board investigate his election eligibility following the January 6 insurrection at the United States Capitol.

Cawthorn, who has faced calls to resign, as well as demands for his firing since speaking at the “Stop the Steal” rally that transformed into the violent insurrectionist mob, hailed the decision by United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina Chief District Court Judge Richard Myers as a “huge victory” over “the left’s lawfare tactics.”

Myers, a Donald Trump appointee to the Federal Bench, tossed the complaint initially filed by a group of North Carolina voters by claiming that an 1872 law that lifted the 14th Amendment ban on former Confederate officials from serving in public office not only applied retroactively to the Civil War, but proactively to future insurrectionists, as well.

In a statement criticizing Myers’ decision, voting rights group We The People’s legal director Ron Fein blasted that logic, calling it “wrong on the law” and “patently absurd.”

Fein, whose group helped represent the voters who’d brought the initial complaint against Cawthorn, also noted that “the court did not rule that Cawthorn is innocent of insurrection.”

“This decision must be appealed to the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit so that the North Carolina state proceedings may move forward,” he concluded.

However, it’s unclear whether the plaintiffs will actually push ahead with an appeal. As Myers himself pointed out during the case, the compressed timetable between his decision and upcoming election dates presented a number of procedural obstacles had the case been allowed to move forward to the state’s Board of Elections. Their inquiry was scheduled to begin in the coming weeks.

Speaking with WRAL on Friday, Attorney John Wallace expressed his frustration on behalf of the voters who’d brought the complaint, saying he and his clients were “greatly disappointed” by Myers’s decision, and “will need to consider whether a next step is warranted.”

For the time being, however, the message seems clear: fomenting an insurrection against the government doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t work for it, too.