Marjorie Taylor Greene Deemed Qualified to Seek Reelection
ATLANTA — Georgia’s secretary of state on Friday evening accepted an administrative law judge’s finding that Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., is qualified to run for reelection.
Earlier in day, Administrative Law Judge Charles Beaudrot held that Greene is qualified to run for reelection, concluding that a group of voters who had challenged her eligibility failed to prove she engaged in insurrection after the November 2020 presidential election.
Though he came down in favor of Greene, Beaudrot’s decision was nonbinding, and it was up to Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to decide whether Greene would remain on Georgia’s May 24 primary ballot and, if she wins, the November general election ballot.
As previously reported in The Well News, Greene’s eligibility to run for reelection was challenged by five voters who live in her district and who allege the GOP congresswoman played a significant role in the Jan. 6, 2021, siege on the U.S. Capitol that temporarily halted Congress’ certification of Joe Biden’s presidential election victory.
Her words and actions, the voters said, put her in violation of a seldom-invoked part of the 14th Amendment having to do with insurrection and made her ineligible to run for reelection.
Before coming to his conclusion, Beaudrot held a daylong hearing in April that included arguments from lawyers for the voters and for Greene, as well as extensive questioning of Greene herself.
Since then, Beaudrot also reviewed extensive post-hearing briefs filed by both sides.
Now that Raffensperger has made his decision, the voters challenging her eligibility have 10 days to appeal it in Fulton County Superior Court.
Greene won her seat in Georgia’s 14th Congressional District by more than 50 percentage points in 2020 and she quickly became known as an outspoken firebrand for the farthest right reaches of the Republican Party.
In addition to embracing — and loudly espousing — the belief that Joe Biden did not win the 2020 election, she has also followed the QAnon conspiracy theory, spoken at a White Supremacist rally, and questioned whether the Sept. 11, 2001, attack and school shootings were real — comments that ultimately got her ousted from congressional committees.
Though redistricting has pulled two small pockets of Black Democrats into her district, it remains predominantly White and conservative.
Still, her comments and style have alienated some in her district and if she’s on the primary ballot, she’ll face five Republican challengers.
They are Jennifer Strahan, a small-business owner who is running as a “no-drama” conservative; Eric Cunningham, a former sales account manager for CSX railroad; Charles Lutin, a doctor; Seth Synstelien, a business owner and former police officer who served as the vice president of the Marine Corps Reserve Association; and James Haygood, a railroad professional and farmer who is a lifelong resident of the 14th Congressional District.
Raffensperger himself is facing a Republican primary challenge on the May 24 ballot after he refused to bend to pressure from Trump to overturn Joe Biden’s victory in Georgia.
Raffensperger has decried the 2021 attack on the Capitol, writing in his book that he found it “highly objectionable” that “people are now trying to minimize what happened on Jan. 6.”
The Georgia complaint was filed by Free Speech for People, a national election and campaign finance reform group, on behalf of the five voters. The group filed similar challenges in Arizona and North Carolina.
In a written statement, the group said Beaudrot’s decision “betrays the fundamental purpose of the 14th Amendment’s insurrectionist disqualification clause and gives a pass to political violence as a tool for disrupting and overturning free and fair elections.”
“To be sure, the judge agreed with the challengers on the appropriate legal standard for determining whether someone has ‘engaged’ in insurrection, including that ‘marching orders or instructions to capture a particular objective, or to disrupt or obstruct a particular government proceeding’ constitute engagement,” the statement continued.
“And he rejected virtually all of Greene’s legal arguments, e.g., that speech cannot constitute engagement, or that a prior criminal conviction is necessary to trigger disqualification. Nor did he accept her arguments that the Jan. 6, 2021, attack wasn’t an insurrection, or that the insurrectionists are sheltered by an 1872 congressional amnesty for ex-Confederates. Instead, he based his ruling on supposedly insufficient evidence — in large part, credulously accepting her repeated denials or lack of recollection. He discounted both her pre-January announcement of a plan to prevent the peaceful transfer of power and her Jan. 5 signal (‘This is our 1776 moment’) that the violent vanguard understood as a green light.
“The purpose of the insurrectionist disqualification clause — in 1866 and today — is to protect the republic not just (or even mainly) from violent foot soldiers, but rather the political leaders who broke their oath to support the Constitution and helped facilitate the insurrection,” the group said. “It’s true that Greene didn’t attack police officers herself, but in the Civil War, Confederate President Jefferson Davis never fired a shot. The case law under the insurrectionist disqualification clause is clear that any voluntary assistance to an insurrection is disqualifying, and the evidence presented in this case established beyond serious question that Greene helped facilitate an assemblage of violent extremists for the purpose, as she admitted on video, of preventing the peaceful transfer of power.”
They went on to urge Raffensperger to take a fresh look at the evidence presented in the case and reject the judge’s recommendation.
After issuing its statement, the group, Free Speech for People, sent a letter to Raffensperger amplifying its postion. That letter can be read here. Ultimately, it was to no avail.
In the meantime, Greene has filed a federal lawsuit challenging the legitimacy of the law that the voters are using to try to keep her off the ballot. That suit is pending.
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