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Court overturns Cawthorn ruling, says insurrectionist candidates can be barred from office

The extremist representative from North Carolina is on the way out of Congress after losing his primary, and he might be gone for good.


Far-right Rep. Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina is on his way out of Congress — and it might be for good. 

That’s because a federal appeals court on Tuesday overturned a district court ruling that blocked a challenge to Cawthorn’s eligibility to serve in Congress. The lawsuit, filed on behalf of North Carolina voters by a group called Free Speech for People, argued that Cawthorn had violated the 14th Amendment by allegedly aiding the Jan. 6 insurrection and, therefore, shouldn’t be allowed to serve in Congress. In March, a federal judge said Cawthorn was protected by a Civil War-era law that was meant to give amnesty to Confederates who fought against the Union, but that ruling was reversed Tuesday. 

Cawthorn lost his primary race last week so he’s on the outs, but the appeals court ruling could be grounds to bar him from running for office again in the future. The ruling is also bad news for Cawthorn’s fellow Republican extremists in Congress, like Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Lauren Boebert of Colorado.

Greene has faced a similar eligibility lawsuit. Like Cawthorn, a judge ultimately ruled Greene should be deemed eligible, though Free Speech for People is seeking an appeal in her case, too. Ideologically, Boebert is kin to Cawthorn and Greene, so there’s understandably a question of whether her extremism should disqualify her from office, too

And then there’s former President Donald Trump, whose eligibility to run in the 2024 election is in question, as well. A federal judge has already ruled that Trump “likely" violated the law with his attempts to remain in power after losing the 2020 election to Joe Biden. And if others can be disqualified from holding office for aiding the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, it makes sense that Trump could be disqualified as well.

In the immediate term, Tuesday’s ruling adds to a heap of unpleasant news for Cawthorn. There’s stiff competition, but the past couple months may constitute the undisputed lowlights of the freshman lawmaker’s fledgling career.

At 26, there’s truly no telling what new career path is in store for Cawthorn. What seems best for literally everyone involved is for him not to hold elected office again. Here’s to hoping the law keeps him — and other extremists like him — out.