A Georgia judge ruled on Friday that U.S. Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene could run for office, rejecting arguments from a group of voters who challenged her eligibility over allegations that she had engaged in an insurrection. But the decision will ultimately rest with Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.
State Administrative Law Judge Charles Beaudrot announced his decision after a day-long hearing in April that included submissions from attorneys for the voters and for Greene, as well as extensive questioning of Greene herself. same.
State law dictates that Beaudrot must submit his findings to Raffensperger, who must decide whether Greene should be removed from the ballot.
The challenge to Greene’s eligibility was filed by voters who allege the Republican congresswoman played a significant role in the January 6, 2021 riot that disrupted US Congress’ certification of Joe Biden’s victory in the ‘presidential election. This puts her in violation of a rarely invoked part of the 14th Amendment regarding insurrection and makes her ineligible to run for re-election, they argue.
TV Commentary on ‘1776 Moment’
At the April 22 hearing on the challenge, Ron Fein, an attorney for the voters who filed the challenge, noted that in a television interview the day before the attack on the United States Capitol, Greene said the tomorrow would be “our moment of 1776”. Lawyers for the voters said some supporters of then-US President Donald Trump used this reference to the American Revolution as a call for violence.
“It actually turned out to be a moment in 1861,” Fein said, alluding to the start of the American Civil War.
Greene is a conservative brand and Trump ally who has become one of the GOP’s biggest fundraisers in Congress by stirring up controversy and pushing baseless conspiracy theories.
At the recent hearing, she was defiant when questioned under oath by Andrew Celli, another voters’ lawyer. She repeated the baseless claim that widespread fraud led to Trump’s loss in the 2020 election, said she could not recall various inflammatory statements and social media posts attributed to her, and denied ever supporting violence.
Occasionally, when confronted with evidence of a particular social media post or comment that she said she did not recall, Greene said her staff sometimes managed her accounts or that her words were misinterpreted or distorted by the media.
Denial of knowledge of plans to storm the Capitol
Greene said she and her staff were busy preparing to oppose the certification of electoral votes for Biden and while she admitted encouraging a rally in support of Trump, she said she was not unaware of plans to storm the Capitol or disrupt the voter count using violence.
Greene said she feared for her safety during the riot and used social media posts to encourage people to be safe and stay calm.
The challenge to his eligibility is based on a section of the 14th Amendment which says that no one may sit in Congress “who, having been sworn, as a member of Congress … to uphold the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in an insurrection or rebellion against the same”. Ratified shortly after the Civil War, it was partly intended to prevent representatives who had fought for the Confederacy from returning to Congress.
Greene “urged, encouraged, and helped facilitate violent resistance to our own government, our democracy, and our Constitution,” Fein said, concluding, “She engaged in insurrection.”
James Bopp, an attorney for Greene, argued that his client engaged in protected political speech and was herself a victim of the attack on the Capitol, not a participant. He also argued that the administrative law process was not the appropriate forum to deal with weighty allegations made by voters.
The challenge amounts to an attempt “to deny the right to vote to thousands of people living in Georgia’s 14th District by removing Greene from the ballot,” Bopp said.
The challenge to Greene’s eligibility to run for re-election was filed by five voters who live in his district, and the procedure for such a challenge is outlined in Georgia law. The law states that any voter who is eligible to vote for a candidate can challenge that candidate’s qualifications by filing a written complaint, triggering a hearing before an administrative law judge.
Beaudrot’s decision does not bind Raffensperger, who must determine whether Green is qualified to run for re-election.