Federal judge allows effort to disqualify Marjorie Greene from ballot to proceed

A state administrative court hearing on the challenge is scheduled for Friday

A federal judge has denied U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s request to block a challenge of her eligibility to run for a second term in office.

That challenge, filed by five voters in Greene’s 14th Congressional District, is slated for a hearing in a Georgia administrative court on Friday. Attorneys for the voters plan to argue that Greene’s actions leading up to and on the day of the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol make her ineligible to serve, citing a Civil War-era provision in the Constitution that bars members of Congress who supported an insurrection from returning to their seats.

Judge Amy Totenberg of the Northern District of Georgia wrote that the voters’ challenge is serious and deserves a full vetting. Totenberg was appointed to the federal bench in 2010 by President Barack Obama.

“This case raises novel and complex constitutional issues of public interest and import,” she wrote.

Greene has said she had no role in the attack on the Capitol, and no evidence has been published to date by law enforcement or congressional committees linking her to it. She said her support for rejecting Joe Biden’s Electoral College votes in certain states, including Georgia, has been misconstrued by political opponents as proof she was involved in planning the violence that occurred that day.

“The whole thing should be thrown out because it’s insane,” she said Tuesday. “It’s completely wrong. I did nothing wrong.”

Greene, a Rome Republican, said she had nothing to do with the attack and in its aftermath condemned what occurred and encouraged supporters to go home.

Free Speech For People, a self-described pro-democracy organization, is leading the effort to disqualify Greene and four other conservative U.S. House members, accusing them of helping plan or facilitate the Capitol attack. Our Revolution, a political organization that spun out of U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign, is also involved.

In addition to wanting Greene kicked off the ballot, the groups have also made it clear that a main goal of their effort is to force her to answer questions under oath about the Capitol riot.

“Everything I’ve read says Rep. Greene was involved in the Jan. 6th insurrection that was trying to override everything I believe in — Our Constitution, how we run elections, and how our government is set up,” Michael Rasbury, one of the voters named in the challenge, said in a news release. “She should not be on the ballot.”

At the center of the challenge is a provision in the 14th Amendment that says members of Congress cannot keep their seats if they engaged in an act of insurrection or rebellion against the government.

Attorneys for Greene argued that two laws passed by Congress in the years following the Civil War created permanent amnesty from this provision. A North Carolina judge agreed with that line of thinking and threw out a similar challenge regarding U.S. Rep. Madison Cawthorn.

Totenberg wrote Monday that her counterpart was wrong. If Congress wanted to permanently invalidate the insurrectionist language from ever being applied or enforced again, lawmakers needed to amend the Constitution instead of passing immunity legislation, she said.

“The far more plausible reading is that Congress’s grant of amnesty only applied to past conduct,” Totenberg wrote.

Now that she has allowed the case to proceed, an administrative law judge will move forward with a review of the challenge. The judge will eventually submit recommendations to Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who will make a final ruling on Greene’s eligibility.

Greene’s attorneys plan to file an emergency motion in hopes of getting an appeals court judge to overturn Totenberg’s decision. But if that doesn’t happen, she said she is prepared to show up in court on Friday.

ExploreGroup hopes to use Constitution’s ban on ‘insurrectionists’ to disqualify Greene