Top election official Rules Greene qualifies for Ga. ballot, rejecting offer to remove her
Georgia’s top election official says Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene will remain on the GOP primary ballot following a judge’s ruling earlier Friday that rejected a bid to remove her for actions related to the attack of January 6 against the US Capitol.
“In this case, the Challengers say Rep. Greene’s political statements and actions disqualify her. This is rightly a question for voters in Georgia’s 14th Congressional District,” said Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. in a decision confirming the decision of an administrative judge.
Free Speech for People, an election and campaign finance reform organization, had filed a lawsuit on behalf of a group of Georgia voters to oust Greene from the primary ballot, arguing that she had helped incite the 6 January riot which disrupted the official counting of the electoral ballot. College votes.
They cited the 14th Amendment’s ban on anyone who engages in insurrection against the U.S. government from running for federal or state office.
Greene denied the group’s constitutional claims when she testified in a court hearing last month, insisting she was simply exercising her First Amendment right to free speech with her baseless claims. that the 2020 election was “stolen” from former President Donald Trump.
In his 19-page decision, Administrative Judge Charles R. Beaudrot said the challengers “failed to prove their case by a preponderance of the evidence.”
They did not sufficiently establish that Greene “engaged in an insurrection or rebellion…or [gave] aid or comfort enemies” under the 14th Amendment, the judge wrote on Friday, concluding that Greene is qualified to be a candidate.
Ron Fein, legal director of Free Speech For People, criticized the ruling, saying it “betrays the fundamental purpose” of the 14th Amendment’s insurrectionary disqualification clause and “gives political violence a free pass as a tool for disrupt and overturn free and fair elections.”
In a statement, Greene praised the judge for “his correct ruling.”
“Fortunately, this attempt to rig another election was stopped dead in its tracks,” she said.
In his ruling, the judge said he did not focus on Greene’s “passionate political rhetoric” from before Jan. 3, 2021, when she was sworn in as a congresswoman and sworn in to respect the Constitution.
“His public statements and impassioned rhetoric may have contributed to the environment that ultimately led to the invasion. But expressing constitutionally protected political views, no matter how aberrant, before being sworn in as Rep. does not engage in an insurrection under the 14th Amendment,” he wrote.
Beaudrot noted that Greene denied being involved in any planning for the “invasion” of the Capitol and said the challengers had not provided evidence to the contrary.
The challengers had pointed to a comment Greene made in a Jan. 5 interview with Newsmax when she said the next day would be “our moment of 1776.” The group called the remark “a literal call to arms to storm the Capitol.”
The judge, however, said he was too “ambiguous” to disqualify Greene from the ballot.
“Passionate political rhetoric? Yes. Encouragement to supporters of efforts to prevent certification of President Biden’s election? Yes. Encouragement to attend the Save America rally or other rallies and demonstrate against the certification of election results? Yes. A call to arms for the consummation of a pre-planned violent revolution? No,” Beaudrot wrote.
“It is impossible for the Court to conclude from this vague and ambiguous statement that Rep. Greene was complicit in a months-long endeavor to obstruct the peaceful transfer of presidential power without making a huge unfounded leap,” he said. added.
Under Georgian law, administrative law judges send their findings on electoral challenges to the Secretary of State, who makes the final decision on eligibility.
The secretary of state usually has 30 days to issue a ruling, but Raffensperger, a Republican who has tangled with Trump over his false allegations of voter fraud in the state, issued his ruling just hours after Trump’s ruling. Beaudrot has been made public.
The primary is scheduled for May 24.