Could the Challenge to Madison Cawthorn’s Qualifications Be a Template for Removing Insurrectionists From Congress?

by | Jan 11, 2022 | Progress & Solutions, Opinions & Commentary

Rep. Madison Cawthorn, R-N.C., at the U.S. Capitol, Jan. 7, 2021. (House Television via AP, File)

Could the Challenge to Madison Cawthorn’s Qualifications Be a Template for Removing Insurrectionists From Congress?

by | Jan 11, 2022 | Progress & Solutions, Opinions & Commentary

Rep. Madison Cawthorn, R-N.C., at the U.S. Capitol, Jan. 7, 2021. (House Television via AP, File)
Madison Cawthorn's re-election may be over before it starts. His very qualifications to run have been challenged by a group of voters in his home state.

As reported by AP and scores of other outlets, a group of North Carolina voters urged state officials Monday to disqualify U.S. Rep. Madison Cawthorn as a congressional candidate, citing his participation in a rally last January in Washington that questioned the presidential election outcome and preceded the Capitol riot.

The core of their challenge is Section 3 of the 14th Amendment.

No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any state, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any state legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any state, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.

The challenge was backed by a group called Free Speech for People, a national election and campaign finance reform group. “The importance of defending the bedrock constitutional principle that oath breakers who engage in insurrection cannot be trusted in future office is essential to maintain,” said the group’s legal director, Ron Fein.

The ball is now in Cawthorn’s lap. North Carolina State law says Cawthorn has the burden to “show by a preponderance of the evidence” that he’s qualified to run.

This is a unique and enlightening move on the part of these voters.

We are a representative government. The power possessed by the government is based on the consent of the governed. That’s our model. The living document of our Constitution lays out how this works. And the various Amendments show how it has evolved over the centuries that it has endured thus far.

The 14th Amendment is explicit in establishing a qualification for office holders of not operating in a manner contrary to their oaths of office, a violation clearly demonstrated by Cawthorn and more than a few others. In spite of the existence of Section 3 of the 14th, historically no Members of Congress have been removed on the grounds it presents.

Only five members of the House have ever been expelled and only fifteen from the Senate. To now see a group of voters attempt to prevent a seditionist sitting member of the House from running for re-election is a new and frankly refreshing move.

For many Americans the idea of politics is more than a little distasteful. This is possibly because Civics and the basics of our government system used to be a standard element of our education system but were long ago replaced with “social studies.”

The election of Donald Trump to the Office of President was a wake-up call to a growing number of Americans to at least get a primer on how our system is supposed to work. And lo! and behold, even a cursory study tells one that we, the voters, are actually in charge. It is our consent that is the very foundation of our system. And thus it is no surprise that Trump-corrupted Republicans are working hard to reduce the numbers of us that may vote.

So when we have voters band together and make the case that a candidate or office holder is too odious to even consider, based on that person’s treasonous actions, well that is saying something. Loudly.

Those that want to destroy our country by turning it into a white supremacist quasi-religious fanatic form of government—people like Michael Flynn, Steve Bannon and others—are doing so at a grassroots level. They are attempting to take over school boards, city councils or other civic groups largely by coercion and intimidation, but by at least paying attention to how things work at a local level.

Thus, voters working at a local level to nullify the candidacy of seditionists, insurrectionists and white supremacists is actually quite appropriate and should be applauded. Loudly.

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