ATLANTA – (AP) – A Georgia judge on Friday ruled that US Rep. Marjorie Taylor Green can run for re-election, dismissing arguments by a group of voters who have challenged her eligibility over allegations that she took part in a riot , had questioned. But the final decision rests with Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.
State Administrative Judge Charles Beaudrot made his decision after a day-long hearing in April that included arguments by attorneys for voters and for Greene, and extensive questioning of Greene himself.
State law requires Beaudrot to present his findings to Raffensperger, who must decide whether to remove Greene from the ballot.
The challenge to Greene’s eligibility was filed by voters who allege the GOP congresswoman played a significant role in the Jan. 6, 2021 riots that disrupted congressional confirmation of Joe Biden’s victory in the presidential election. In so doing, she violates a rarely cited portion of the 14th Amendment dealing with insurgency and renders her unfit for re-election, they argue.
During the April 22 challenge hearing, Ron Fein, an attorney for the constituents who filed the challenge, noted that in a televised interview the day before the attack on the US Capitol, Greene said the next day was “our 1776- Moment”. Advocates for voters said some supporters of then-President Donald Trump used this reference to the American Revolution as a call for violence.
“In fact, it turned out to be an 1861 moment,” Fein said, referring to the start of the Civil War.
Greene is a conservative arsonist and Trump ally who has become one of the GOP’s biggest fundraisers in Congress by stirring up controversy and spreading baseless conspiracy theories. During the most recent hearing, she was defiant when questioned under oath by Andrew Celli, another voter advocate. She reiterated unsubstantiated claims that widespread fraud led to Trump’s defeat in the 2020 election, said she does not recall various incendiary devices and social media posts attributed to her and denied ever having supported violence.
Sometimes, when confronted with evidence of a particular social media post or comment she couldn’t remember making, Greene said her staff sometimes ran her accounts or that her words were misinterpreted or twisted by news outlets.
Greene said she and her staff are busy preparing to object to the certification of electoral votes for Biden, and while she admitted encouraging a rally in support of Trump, she said she was unaware of plans Storming the Capitol or disrupting the counting of elections Violence. Greene said she feared for her safety during the riot and took to social media posts to encourage people to stay safe and calm.
The challenge to their eligibility is based on a section of the 14th Amendment which states that no one may serve in Congress “who, having previously taken an oath, as a Member of Congress … shall uphold the Constitution of the United States in rebellion.” or rebellion against the same.” Ratified shortly after the Civil War, it was designed in part to prevent representatives who had fought for the Confederacy from returning to Congress.
Greene “urged, encouraged, and helped facilitate violent opposition to our own government, our democracy, and our Constitution,” Fein said, concluding, “She participated in the insurgency.”
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 court process was not the appropriate forum to deal with voters’ serious allegations.
The challenge amounts to an attempt “to deny the vote to the thousands of people who live in Georgia’s 14th Circuit by barring Greene from voting,” Bopp said.
The challenge to Greene’s eligibility for re-election was filed by five constituents residing in her district, and the procedure for such a challenge is set out in Georgian law. The law states that any voter entitled to vote for a candidate can challenge that candidate’s qualifications by filing a written complaint, which triggers a hearing before an administrative judge. Beaudrot’s decision is not binding on Raffensperger, who must determine whether Green qualifies for re-election.
Once Raffensperger makes its decision, each side has 10 days to appeal to Fulton County Superior Court. Raffensperger faces a key Republican challenge in the May 24 election after refusing to bow to pressure from Trump to overturn Joe Biden’s victory in Georgia. Raffensperger has condemned the attack on the Capitol in 2021, writing in his book that he finds it “highly offensive” that “people are now trying to downplay what happened on January 6th”.
The Georgia complaint was filed by Free Speech for People, a national election and campaign finance reform group, on behalf of five constituents living in the Greene District. The group filed similar lawsuits in Arizona and North Carolina.
Greene has filed a federal lawsuit challenging the legitimacy of the law voters are trying to use to keep them from voting. This lawsuit is pending.
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