Raleigh, NC ( Associated Press) — a week after U.S. Representative Madison Cawthorne After losing his primary election, a federal appeals court on Tuesday overturned a trial judge’s decision that blocked North Carolina’s election board from examining whether he should be disqualified for re-election.
A panel of judges from the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the decision of District Judge Richard Myers, who determined that a clause of the 14th Amendment did not apply to Cawthorne to address the rebellion and serve in Congress. Is. Voters who formally challenged Cawthorne’s candidacy described how Republicans spoke for the first time at a “Stop the Steal” rally before the US Capitol riots on January 6, 2021. Cawthorne refuses to participate in a rebellion.
The decision lost some urgency, however, as Cawthorne lost his May 17 primary. Sen. Chuck Edwards in the state’s 11th Congressional District. The court ruled even after Cawthorne’s attorney appealed last Friday because election officials would certify the primary result in early June, meaning his name would not be on the November general election ballot.
In an opinion footnote, Circuit Judge Toby Heights wrote that the verdicts were filed anyway because the results are not yet official, leaving any decision up to Myers on whether to dismiss the case. Tuesday’s verdict, however, may reveal how other challenges are to be faced by states in the future. Similar challenges have been filed against members of Congress in other states who have been strong supporters of former President Donald Trump, including Georgia Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene.
Free Speech for the People, a national election and campaign finance reform group that assisted in the Cawthorne challenge, called Tuesday’s decision a “big victory.” A spokesperson for Cawthorne did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.
North Carolina voters who filed the challenge cited the clause that declared that no one could serve in Congress “who has previously been sworn in as a member of Congress … to endorse the Constitution of the United States.” For, would have engaged in rebellion or rebellion against the same.” The amendment, three years after the Civil War ended, to deal with ex-Confederates, allows Congress to pass laws that could remove such restrictions. .
Writing the prevailing opinion among the three judges, Haytens wrote that Myers got it wrong in March when he wrote that an 1872 law that removed the disqualification of office from most ex-confessions also allowed current members of Congress such as Cawthorne. Exempted.
According to Heatens, the arguments that since the law removed the disqualification from holding office “from all persons”, implying that it applied to future legislators, were incorrect. The circuit judge said the past language clearly meant that it “applies to persons whose constitutionally wrongful acts were committed prior to its enactment.”
Noting that the 1872 law still prevented top federal officials such as its former President Jefferson Davis from serving again, Heatens wrote, “The assumption that the 1872 Congress simultaneously deemed Davis worthy of an explicit advance pardon in the future.” Sounds like quite a stretch.”
Still, the judges “express no opinion as to whether Representative Cawthorne actually engaged in ‘rebellion or rebellion’ or is otherwise qualified to serve in Congress,” Heatens said.
Cowthorne’s attorney, James Bopp, argued before the panel on May 3 in Richmond, Virginia, That the Constitution leaves the decision on whether someone is disqualified to serve in the U.S. House with an elected body—not the states. While Hightens wrote that even the panel did not rule on whether the Constitution gives that responsibility to Congress, his colleagues weighed in.
Circuit Judge Jim Wynn wrote that the Constitution gives states broad powers to regulate candidates and ballot use. Circuit Judge Julius Richardson said that Myers’ court lacked the jurisdiction to initiate the case, saying that determining the qualifications of a member of the House is “a privilege and duty given only to the House.”
Free Speech for People also helped file a challenge against Greene, who voted in Tuesday’s primary in Georgia. While a federal district judge allowed the challenge to continue, a state administrative law judge found that she did not present sufficient evidence to back her claims that she was involved in the rebellion. Georgia Secretary of State Brad Riffensperger acknowledged those findings and said Greene was eligible to run. An appeal is pending.
The appeals court also agreed that Myers should have allowed at least one voter who filed a candidacy challenge to intervene in the lawsuit, which was actually filed by Cawthorne against the state election board.
Associated Press writer Kate Brumback in Atlanta contributed to this report.