Judge: Marjorie Taylor Greene is qualified for re-election

ATLANTA (AP) — A Georgia judge ruled Friday that U.S. Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene is qualified to run for re-election, finding that a group of voters who had questioned her eligibility failed to prove she participated in an insurrection after taking office. position. But the decision will ultimately rest with Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.

Before reaching his decision, State Administrative Law Judge Charles Beaudrot held a day-long hearing in April that included arguments from attorneys for the voters and Greene, as well as extensive questioning of Greene herself. He also received extensive information.

State law says Beaudrot must present his findings to Raffensperger, who must decide whether Greene should be removed from the ballot.

Raffensperger is being challenged by a candidate endorsed by former President Donald Trump in this month’s Republican primary and would likely face a major setback from right-wing voters if he disagreed with Beaudrot’s finding.

A Raffensperger spokesman said in an email that it had received Beaudrot’s recommendation and “will make its final decision soon.”

Greene applauded Beaudrot’s finding, calling the challenge to his eligibility an “unprecedented attack on free speech, on our elections, and on you, the voter.”

“But the battle is just beginning,” he said in a statement. “The left will never stop their war to take away our freedoms.” He added: “This ruling gives me hope that we can win and save our country.”

The challenge to Greene’s eligibility was filed by Free Speech for People, a national election and campaign finance reform group, on behalf of five voters who allege the Republican congresswoman played a significant role in the January 6 riots. 2021 that interrupted congressional certification. of Joe Biden’s presidential victory. That puts her in violation of a rarely invoked part of the 14th Amendment having to do with insurrection and makes her ineligible to run for re-election, they argued.

Beaudrot’s decision “betrays the fundamental purpose of the Fourteenth Amendment’s Insurrectionist Disqualification Clause and ushers in political violence as a tool to disrupt and nullify free and fair elections,” Free Speech for People said in a statement.

“We urge Secretary Raffensperger to revisit the evidence presented in the case and reject the judge’s recommendation,” the statement said.

During the hearing on April 22, Ron Fein, a lawyer for the voters, noted that in a television interview the day before the attack on the US Capitol, Greene said that the next day would be “our 1776 moment.” Lawyers for the voters said some supporters of then-President Trump used that reference to the American Revolution as a call to violence.

“It actually turned out to be a moment in 1861,” Fein said, alluding to the start of the Civil War.

Greene is a conservative firebrand and Trump ally who has become one of the GOP’s biggest fundraisers in Congress by stirring up controversy and promoting unsubstantiated conspiracy theories. During the recent hearing, Greene repeated the unsubstantiated claim that widespread fraud led to Trump’s loss in the 2020 electionhe said he did not recall several inflammatory statements and social media posts attributed to him and denied ever endorsing violence.

Greene acknowledged encouraging a rally in support of Trump, but said he was not aware of plans to storm the Capitol or disrupt the vote count using violence. Greene said he feared for his safety during the riots and used social media posts to encourage people to stay safe and calm.

The challenge to his eligibility is based on a section of the 14th Amendment which says that no one may serve in Congress “who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress … to support the Constitution of the United States, shall insurrection or rebellion against it.” 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 resistance to our own government, our democracy, and our Constitution,” Fein said, concluding, “He engaged in insurrection.”

James Bopp, an attorney for Greene, argued that his client engaged in protected political speech and that she herself was a victim of the attack on Capitol Hill, not a participant.

Beaudrot wrote that there is no evidence that Greene participated in the Capitol attack or that he communicated or gave instructions to the people involved.

“Whatever the exact parameters of the meaning of ‘compromise’ as used in the 14th Amendment, and assuming for these purposes that the invasion was an insurrection, the Challengers have not presented sufficient evidence to show that Rep. Greene ‘participated’ in that insurrection after she was sworn in on January 3, 2021,” he wrote.

Greene’s “public statements and heated rhetoric” may have contributed to the atmosphere that led to the attack, but they are protected by the First Amendment, Beaudrot wrote.

“Expressing constitutionally protected political views, no matter how abhorrent they may be, prior to being sworn in as a Representative is not engaging in insurrection under the 14th Amendment,” he said.

The five voters who challenged Greene’s eligibility live in his district, and the procedure for such a challenge is outlined in Georgia law.

Once Raffensperger determines if Greene is qualified to run, either party has 10 days to appeal in Fulton County Superior Court. Raffensperger faces a major challenge on the May 24 ballot after he refused to bow to pressure from Trump to overturn Biden’s victory in Georgia.

Free Speech for People has presented similar challenges in Arizona and North Carolina.

Greene has filed a federal lawsuit challenging the legitimacy of the law that voters are using to try to keep her off the ballot. That trial is pending.


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