Rule of Law

RELEASE: In Cawthorn January 6 Case, a “Mystifying” Preliminary Ruling 

WASHINGTON – Following a North Carolina-based federal judge’s grant of a preliminary injunction to Rep. Madison Cawthorn—preventing the North Carolina State Board of Elections from determining whether Cawthorn should be disqualified from the ballot due to his alleged involvement in the January 6 attack on the Capitol—Constitutional Accountability Center Vice President Praveen Fernandes issued the following reaction:

We are mystified by the district court’s decision today to grant Representative Cawthorn’s request for an injunction against state election board proceedings about whether he is disqualified from serving in Congress by virtue of Section Three of the Fourteenth Amendment, which disqualifies from holding federal office those who “having previously taken an oath . . . to support the Constitution of the United States” and then “engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same.”

The district court’s conclusion that the Amnesty Act of 1872 lifted candidacy restrictions not only for many former Confederate officials, but also for all future insurrectionists, defies text, history, and logic. The plain text of the of the law makes clear that it looks backward, not forward, in its application, and this reading is reinforced by its history. This law was passed as a substitute for laws specifying by name a laundry list of Confederate insurrectionists; it was not passed to protect any and all people who might take up arms against their country in the future. Indeed, such a broad reading of the Amnesty Act’s reach is illogical, as it would effectively nullify Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment, a provision that was viewed as critically important in the aftermath of the Civil War.

Text, history, and logic fail to support today’s decision, which would undermine the critical need for accountability for the events of January 6th. We look forward to its reversal on appeal.



“Text and History Demonstrate Cawthorn Can’t Evade Accountability for January 6,” Praveen Fernandes, Charles Miller, and Charlotte Schwartz, CAC Blog, February 23, 2022:


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