Hey kids, how would you like to run for Congress?
Rep. Madison Cawthorn’s (R-NC) lawyer, defending his client against a bid to get him kicked off the ballot for helping fuel the Jan. 6 Capitol attack, made the argument on Tuesday that states don’t have the authority to enforce qualification requirements for congressional candidates -– including age limits.
During a hearing at the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the attorney, James Bopp Jr., argued that only Congress, not the states, can decide whether a person is qualified to run.
James Wynn, one of the judges on the three-judge panel, seemed incredulous.
“Let’s say you want to run for office at 12 years old, or something like that. The state can’t do anything? You’ve got to wait until Congress says they can’t run?” he asked.
The answer is yes, the preteen can make a serious bid for Congress, according to Bopp.
“I can’t help what the Constitution says,” the lawyer told Wynn.
Same goes for residency requirements, Bopp argued, and Wynn didn’t seem to buy that one either.
“Somebody from South Carolina can file [to run] for any seat they want to in North Carolina, never having lived there a day in their life, and there’s nothing North Carolina can do about it, or a court can do about it, until it goes to Congress?” the judge asked.
Bopp said that it was up to Congress and the voters to “do something about it.”
“Come on, you think somebody’s gonna run from South Carolina and get elected in North Carolina?” the attorney asked.
The hearing on Tuesday comes as part of the federal appellate court’s weighing of whether the challenge to Cawthorn’s candidacy can move forward after a Trump appointee at a lower court pulled the plug on the challenge. The Trump-appointed judge agreed with Cawthorn’s argument that he was covered by the 19th century amnesty order for Confederates.
The appellate court is reviewing that ruling, but it’s unknown when the panel will make its decision and whether it’ll come before Cawthorn faces off against his GOP challengers in the North Carolina primaries on May 17.
Cawthorn has more than just this one target on his back; The North Carolina Republican’s own party is actively trying to take him down after he alleged that congressional lawmakers have orgy parties and do cocaine.
Since then, Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) has taken the unusual steps of not only endorsing one of Cawthorn’s primary challengers, but also calling on the House to open an ethics investigation into Cawthorn over a shady cryptocurrency venture -– one that ex-President Donald Trump promoted. The ethics probe request came just after the right-wing Washington Examiner published a story accusing Cawthorn of being part of a “pump and dump” scheme involving the cryptocurrency.
Images of Cawthorn flirting with a male staffer and wearing lingerie have also been leaked recently amid the GOP’s war on LGBTQ+ people.