Rep. Madison Cawthorn, R-N.C., is suing North Carolina elections officials over an effort to remove his name from the ballot in the upcoming 2022 election.
Cawthorn filed the lawsuit in federal court Monday against the North Carolina State Board of Elections, contending it does not have the authority to remove his name from election ballots.
Earlier in January, 11 North Carolina voters filed a complaint against Cawthorn, alleging he played a role in last year’s attack on the U.S. Capitol, which would constitutionally bar him from a re-election bid.
Cawthorn, who ran at age 25, became the youngest member of the House last year, and currently represents North Carolina’s 11th Congressional District, but he has filed to run in the newly created 13th Congressional District.
The complaint against him accuses Cawthorn of violating a clause in the third section of the 14th Amendment after giving a speech near the White House ahead of the Jan. 6 insurrection.
“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,” reads the clause.
“Rep. Cawthorn vigorously denies that he engaged in ‘insurrection or rebellion’ against the United States, but this litigation is not based in Rep. Cawthorn’s factual defenses. Instead, this matter is before the court based upon various constitutional and legal challenges to the North Carolina Challenge Statute itself and its application here,” the lawsuit states.
It goes on to say that an administrative agency, “has no power to promulgate rules and regulations which alter or add to the law it was set up to administer or which have the effect of substantive law.”
The lawsuit asks that the court declare the challenge against Cawthorn unconstitutional.
“Running for political office is quintessential First Amendment activity and afforded great protection,” Cawthorn said in the lawsuit.
Editor’s note: An earlier version of the story incorrectly stated that Rep. Cawthorn’s name was already removed from the ballot.