Free Speech For People serves as co-lead counsel for the voters challenging Cawthorn’s eligibility to appear on the 2022 primary ballot in North Carolina.

Today’s district court ruling granting Representative Cawthorn’s motion for a preliminary injunction against the North Carolina State Board of Elections must be appealed. This ruling, by Chief Judge Richard Myers II, a Trump appointee, is wrong on the law and would block the State Board of Elections from determining whether Cawthorn is ineligible under the Insurrectionist Disqualification Clause of the US Constitution.  The ruling must be reversed on appeal, and the right of voters to bring this challenge to Cawthorn’s eligibility must be preserved.

Chief Judge Myers of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, in a case that a federal court should not have even heard, reached out to block North Carolina’s well-established process for verifying candidates’ eligibility. Until the decision is overturned on appeal, the state process is on pause, and Madison Cawthorn is temporarily shielded from answering questions about whether his involvement in January 6 disqualifies him under the Fourteenth Amendment. 

According to the court’s ruling, Congress, in passing an 1872 amnesty law for ex-Confederates, essentially repealed the 14th Amendment, even though the only way to repeal an amendment to the U.S. Constitution is by enacting a new constitutional amendment. Further, Congress had passed the 14th Amendment just six years earlier, and, according to this court ruling, the 1872 amnesty law, by a trick of wording that–although no one noticed it at the time, or in the 150 years since–completely undermined Congress’s careful decision to write the Insurrectionist Disqualification Clause to apply to future insurrections. This is patently absurd.

Of note, the court did not rule that Cawthorn is innocent of insurrection. 

And most importantly, its decision on the 1872 amnesty act does not set future precedent for any court–not even for another federal judge in the Eastern District of North Carolina. 

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