On Friday, controversial Republican U.S. Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia faces a re-election challenge from voters and a supportive legal group, seeking to knock her out of the ballot for her pre-insurgency role January 6 at the US Capitol.
Greene is scheduled to answer questions Friday in an Atlanta court as part of the candidacy challenge. It would make her the first Republican congresswoman to publicly testify under oath about the Capitol riot, even as a Democratic-led committee in Washington, D.C. spent months investigating the attack. .
Greene is before a judge because a handful of voters in her district, represented by a nonprofit called Free Speech For People, say Greene should be disqualified because they allege she encouraged and supported the rioters who stormed the Capitol.
Free Speech For People’s attorneys rely on a provision of the US Constitution that prohibits any member of Congress involved in an insurrection from holding office. It’s a section of the 14th Amendment, passed in the years following the Civil War to prevent former Confederates from regaining their seats in Congress.
The legal theory has been virtually untested in modern history because there hasn’t really been a serious insurrection since the Civil War.
Greene has long deployed violent rhetoric against his political opponents and regularly spread false claims about the 2020 election, including in the run-up to Jan. 6, 2021.
Specifically, lawyers for Free Speech For People point to a tweet sent on Jan. 5, calling the day after “the 1776 moment,” which is code for political violence in some far-right circles.
“Marjorie Taylor Greene fomented an insurrection on January 6,” said Ron Fein, legal director of Free Speech For People. “She is a danger in power to the entire republic.”
Greene says she has never encouraged political violence and that this challenge to her candidacy is a lie and a scam aimed at taking away her constituents’ right to vote for the candidate of their choice.
A similar challenge to Republican Congressman Madison Cawthorn’s candidacy has been issued by a North Carolina judge. An appeal has been filed. Greene asked a federal court to dismiss his challenge, but the judge let the case proceed.
Now, a Georgia administrative law judge will state the facts of the case and make a recommendation to Georgia Secretary of State, Republican Brad Raffensperger, on whether Greene should remain on the ballot. Raffensperger is himself re-elected and faces a high-profile primary challenge from the GOP, so he may be reluctant to make political waves by removing Greene from the ballot before the May 24 primary.
Whatever the decision, it will almost certainly be appealed to a higher court.
Page Pate, a general counsel in Georgia, said disqualifying Greene from the ballot might not be the challengers’ only goal.
“They want to hear her questioned under oath, to find out what involvement, if any, she had in this insurrection, and if she makes a false statement, she could be charged with perjury or possibly some other crime” , said Pat.
Greene is popular in his northern Georgia district, which stretches from the outskirts of Atlanta to the Appalachian foothills and the Tennessee border. It is one of the most conservative congressional districts in the country.
Nancy Hollandchad, a longtime volunteer with the Paulding County Republican Women, says efforts to confront Greene only embolden her supporters.
“She’s my MP, so I support her,” she said. “I don’t like them trying to stop Marjorie from voting. They just don’t get it, they galvanize the district more towards her.”
WABE political editor Susanna Capelouto contributed reporting.
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