Eleven North Carolina voters have filed a challenge to prevent Republican Rep. Madison Cawthorn from running for a second term, alleging that his speech at the "Save America Rally" just before the violent protest at the Capitol disqualifies him from being a congressman, Business Insider reported.
During his remarks at the rally, Cawthorn said that President Donald Trump was defeated due to widespread election fraud and that Democrats are trying to silence voters, Newsweek reported.
The challenge, filed before the North Carolina State Board of Elections, argues that Cawthorn, who formally filed as a candidate last month, violated the 14th Amendment, which states that no one "who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress ... shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof."
The suit claims that the storming of the Capitol last year in an unsuccessful attempt to halt the certification of the 2020 presidential election results "amounted to an insurrection," according to The Hill.
The challenge also alleges that Cawthorn "urged his followers to threaten and intimidate" members of Congress, adding that he or his staff were also "in close contact with rally organizers," Axios reported.
Ron Fein, legal director of Free Speech for People, an election and campaign finance reform group supporting the challenge to Cawthorn, told The Guardian that the complaint was "the first legal challenge to a candidate’s eligibility under the disqualification clause filed since post Civil War Reconstruction in the 19th century."
Fein added that "it sets a line that says that just as the framers of the 14th Amendment wrote and intended, you can’t take an oath to support the Constitution and then facilitate an insurrection against the United States while expecting to pursue public office."
Cawthorn’s spokesman Luke Ball said the challenge had no merit, stating that "over 245,000 patriots from Western North Carolina elected Congressman Cawthorn to serve them in Washington. A dozen activists who are comically misinterpreting and twisting the 14th Amendment for political gain will not distract him from that service," according to The Hill.
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