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Judge blocks effort to keep Rep. Madison Cawthorn off election ballot

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Judge blocks effort to keep Rep. Madison Cawthorn off election ballot
Rep. Madison Cawthorn, R-N.C., arrives to the State of the Union address at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday. Cawthorn praised a federal judge's ruling blocking an attempt to remove his name from the election ballot. Pool Photo by Saul Loeb/UPI | License Photo

March 4 (UPI) -- A federal judge on Friday granted a preliminary injunction against an effort seeking to remove Rep. Madison Cawthorn's name from a ballot in his upcoming re-election bid.

U.S. District Judge Richard Myers of the Eastern District of North Carolina said the Republican congressman was likely to succeed in his effort to stop the lawsuit by several voters challenging his candidacy.

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The ruling came in response to Cawthorn's lawsuit against the North Carolina State Board of Elections filed in February. The suit says the board doesn't have the authority to remove his name from the election ballots.

In January, a group of 11 voters filed a complaint with the board saying Cawthorn's alleged role in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol constitutionally bars him from re-election.

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They said the 14th Amendment prevents people who "have engaged in insurrection or rebellion" from running for Congress. The voters said Cawthorn's support of former President Donald Trump's attempts to overturn the 2020 election amount to insurrection.

Cawthorn, who gave a speech at The Ellipse near the White House ahead of the insurrection, and others, including Trump, played a role that "led directly, intentionally, and foreseeably to the insurrectionists' violent assault on the Capitol," the complaint alleged.

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In addition to denying that he took part in an insurrection, Cawthorn said the North Carolina State Board of Elections doesn't have the authority to remove him from the ballot.

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"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," his lawsuit stated.

Ron Fein, legal director for Free Speech For People, which is representing the voters in the initial complaint, called for the injunction to be reversed.

"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 U.S. Constitution," Fein said. "The ruling must be reversed on appeal, and the right of voters to bring this challenge to Cawthorn's eligibility must be preserved."

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Cawthorn praised the ruling as a "huge victory" on Twitter.

"The left's lawfare tactics have failed. On to re-election!" he wrote.

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