A judge in Georgia has found that Marjorie Taylor Greene can run for reelection to Congress, rejecting arguments from voters who challenged the far-right Republican’s eligibility over claims she engaged in insurrection around the Capitol attack on 6 January 2021.
The decision will ultimately be up to Georgia’s Republican secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger.
Charles Beaudrot, an administrative law judge, announced his decision after a day-long hearing last month that included arguments from lawyers for the voters and for Greene and questioning of Greene herself.
The challenge was filed by voters who allege the congresswoman played a significant role in the January 6 riot that disrupted certification of Joe Biden’s election victory. That would put her in violation of a seldom-invoked part of the 14th amendment to do with insurrection and make her ineligible to run, they argue.
During the 22 April hearing, Ron Fein, a lawyer for the voters, noted that in a TV interview the day before the attack at the Capitol, Greene said the next day would be “our 1776 moment”.
“In fact, it turned out to be an 1861 moment,” Fein said, alluding to the start of the civil war.
Greene has become one of the GOP’s biggest fundraisers by stirring controversy and pushing baseless conspiracy theories. During the hearing, she was defiant and combative under oath.
She repeated the unfounded claim that fraud led to Trump’s loss, said she didn’t recall incendiary statements and social media posts and denied supporting violence.
While she acknowledged encouraging a rally to support Trump, she said she wasn’t aware of plans to storm the Capitol or to disrupt the electoral count using violence.
Greene said she feared for her safety during the riot and used social media to encourage people to remain calm.
The challenge is based on a section of the 14th amendment that says no one can serve in Congress “who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress … to support the constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same”.
Ratified after the civil war, it was meant in part to keep out representatives who had fought for the Confederacy.
James Bopp, a lawyer for Greene, argued that his client engaged in protected political speech and was herself a victim of the Capitol attack. He also argued the administrative law proceeding was not the appropriate forum to address such weighty allegations.
The challenge amounted to an attempt “to deny the right to vote to the thousands of people living in the 14th district of Georgia by removing Greene from the ballot,” Bopp said.
Once Raffensperger makes his decision, either side has 10 days to appeal. Raffensperger is facing a primary challenge on May 24 after he refused to bend to pressure from Trump to overturn Biden’s victory in Georgia.
Raffensperger has decried the attack on the Capitol.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism