Cawthorn In The Side

There seems to be a competition among Republican Congresscritters as to who can pose for the most OTT picture of them with guns. Let’s stipulate that wingnuts are usually gun nuts and vice versa. This picture of North Carolina Rep. Madison Cawthorn has it all: guns, greenery, and a dog. Who could hate this guy? Anyone with a lick of sense.

The 26-year-old Cawthorn is the youngest member of Congress and among the Trumpiest. He was elected to succeed Mark Meadows and he’s even wingnuttier than Trump’s former chief of staff, that’s saying a lot.

There’s a novel attempt to disqualify Cawthorn from running for reelection based on his participation in the so-called Stop The Steal rally. I’ll let Slate’s crack legal maven Mark Joseph Stern fill in the blanks:

On Monday, a group of North Carolina voters filed a challenge to Republican Rep. Madison Cawthorn’s candidacy in 2022. Their complaint alleged that Cawthorn is constitutionally ineligible to serve in Congress because he “engaged in an insurrection against the United States” by facilitating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. The complaint is a longshot, but it is firmly rooted in the 14th Amendment, as well as a series of state laws that are surprisingly favorable to Cawthorn’s challengers. Even if the challenge fails to keep Cawthorn out of Congress, it could still succeed in forcing him to reveal new details about his involvement in the Jan. 6 assault.

Although the 14th Amendment is best known for granting birthright citizenship, due process, and equal protection to newly freed slaves, it also contains several provisions designed to limit former Confederates’ influence in American governance after the Civil War. Most notably, its “disqualification clause” states that no one who “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” against the U.S. may hold public office—unless Congress grants them amnesty by a two-thirds vote. This provision was enforced only briefly, Indiana University McKinney School of Law professor Gerard Magliocca has documented, as Congress granted broad amnesty to erstwhile Confederates in 1872. Still, the disqualification clause remains on the books as an unused tool to keep insurrectionists out of the government they sought to topple.

If anyone deserves disqualification, it’s this neo-Confederate Trumper. Stern goes on to describe Cawthorn’s questionable antics on and after Dipshit Insurrection Day:

On Jan. 6, Cawthorn spoke at the notorious “Stop the Steal” rally that preceded the Capitol attack. He faulted other Republicans for “not fighting” and praised the crowd for having “some fight.” At 1:31 p.m., as violent protesters breached the perimeter of the seat of government, Cawthorn declared that “the battle is on the house floor.” Shortly thereafter, rioters began smashing the windows of the Speaker’s Lobby to reach that very floor. After the horrific events of that day, Cawthorn voted to reject electoral results cementing Trump’s defeat and said he did not regret his speech at the rally. Later, he expressed sympathy for the insurrectionists held in jail, describing them as “political hostages” and “political prisoners” whom he would like to “bust” out. The congressman also warned of “bloodshed” if “our election systems continue to be rigged” and encouraged his fans to stockpile “ammunition” to prepare for the coming “bloodshed” over “stolen” elections.

I used to dismiss overheated rhetoric such as this before 1/6/2021 as trash talk from white trash politicians. It’s impossible to do so in 2022, But violent rhetoric and violent action are different things. It’s unclear where Cawthorn’s extreme rhetoric falls on this cacophonous continuum.

Since Cawthorn’s rants took place outside the Capitol, the speech and debate clause of the Constitution does not apply. The speech and debate clause is being invoked to protect Gym Jordan and K-Mac from subpoenas. But an op-ed piece in the WaPo by Abbe Lowell argues that Congress *can* subpoena its own members. Stay tuned.

 Novel legal arguments often do not prevail ,but the Cawthorn challenge has a shot because of the interplay between North Carolina election law and the 14th Amendment. If successful, it could lead to more such challenges as well as a swell slogan: Disqualify The Dipshits. You heard it here first.

There have always been extremist members of the House of Representatives but there’s a bumper crop of nuts in the 117th Congress. It’s time to remove this Cawthorn from the side of the body politic.

Repeat after me: Disqualify The Dipshits.

The last word goes to Eurythmics: