In an Atlanta courtroom on Friday, a potentially precedent-setting disqualification hearing is underway to determine whether Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia is constitutionally barred from running for reelection because of her role in the January 6 insurgency.
Greene is the first lawmaker to testify under oath about their role in the insurgency during the marathon hearing. She is currently on the stand, having been sworn in and being cross-examined by lawyers for the voter who filed the challenge to her candidacy.
The outcome of this case will have far-reaching consequences beyond Georgia, as similar challenges are pending against other Republican officials and could be filed against former President Donald Trump if he runs for president again in 2024.
The fiery Republican lawmaker is in court with one of her closest congressional allies, Florida Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz, who is seated with her legal team. Greene was greeted with thunderous applause and cheers as he entered the courtroom. The room was quickly reprimanded by a court security official, who stated that outbursts would not be tolerated.
The case revolves around a provision of the Fourteenth Amendment from the Civil War era that states that any American official who swears to uphold the Constitution is barred from holding any future office if they “engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof.” However, how this applies to today’s legal situation is a contentious issue.
Greene’s challengers claim she “aided in the facilitation of violent resistance” against the US government, and that they will use her own words against her, such as her strident rhetoric in the lead-up to January 6 that urged people to oppose the peaceful transfer of power and to have a “1776 moment.”
The challenge was launched last month by several of Greene’s constituents in her northwest Georgia district, with the support of a coalition of liberal activists and constitutional scholars. They claim Greene aided the insurgency by spreading voter fraud myths, posting videos criticizing the peaceful transfer of power before January 6, and allegedly coordinating with protest organizers.
The challengers will have to prove that January 6, 2021 was a legal insurgency and that Greene aided the insurrectionists using a “more likely than not” standard. The administrative hearing will be presided over by State Judge Charles Beaudrot, who will make a recommendation to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger on whether or not Greene should be disqualified.
Greene’s lawyer, James Bopp Jr., condemned the proceedings in his opening remarks, claiming that Greene’s constitutional rights were being violated. Greene would also be harmed, according to him, if she is disqualified before the May primary and then wins an appeal after the election.
“Our democracy is in jeopardy. Our elections should not be decided by government employees, public officials, judges, or lawyers, but by the voters “Bopp remarked. “Unless there is compelling legal, not rhetorical, justification, voters have the right to vote for the candidate of their choice. Third, which isn’t present in this instance.”
Greene has the right to challenge Raffensperger’s decision in state court. She has categorically denied any wrongdoing in the US Capitol insurgency, claiming that she “never encouraged political violence” and that she was not involved in any protest planning.
The fact that the disqualification hearing is taking place is noteworthy. Greene filed a federal lawsuit to halt the state process, similar to how GOP Rep. Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina fended off a similar challenge. However, a federal judge dismissed many of Greene’s legal arguments in a blistering 75-page ruling on Monday, allowing the state case to proceed.
Free Speech for People, a legal advocacy group, and Our Revolution, a left-wing group founded by Sen. Bernie Sanders, are supporting the anti-Greene challenge. Greene, who has gained a reputation for peddling far-right conspiracy theories, has received support from some conservative legal experts as well as Trump himself, who praised her on Thursday in a lie-filled statement.