A Georgia judge dealt a national nonprofit another loss in their attempt to have “insurrectionist” Republicans removed from November’s ballot.
State Administrative Law Judge Charles Beaudrot Friday ruled U.S. Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene is qualified to run for reelection. Judge Beaudrot explained that voters who challenged her eligibility failed to prove she engaged in insurrection after taking office. The decision came after a daylong April hearing where lawyers for both sides argued their cases along with additional briefings and considerable questioning of the congresswoman.
Ron Fein, a lawyer for the voters, noted during the April hearing that the day before the Capitol riot Greene said in a TV interview that the next day would be “our 1776 moment.” Lawyers for the voters characterized that reference to the American Revolution as a call to violence.
Greene admitted she encouraged a Trump rally but claimed she was not aware of plans to storm the Capitol or use violence to disrupt the January 6, 2021, electoral count. Greene said she feared for her safety during the riot and used social media posts to encourage people to be safe and stay calm, according to the Associated Press report.
Public statements and heated rhetoric Greene made are protected by the First Amendment, Beaudrot wrote, even though they may have contributed to the environment that led to the attack.
“Expressing constitutionally-protected political views, no matter how aberrant they may be, prior to being sworn in as a Representative is not engaging in insurrection under the 14th Amendment,” the judge explained.
Greene’s eligibility was challenged by Free Speech for People (FSFP), a national election and campaign finance reform group, on behalf of five voters who argued the Republican congresswoman factored significantly in the Capitol riot. That, they claimed, violated a seldom-invoked part of the 14th Amendment dealing with insurrection, which they claimed makes her ineligible for reelection.
Beaudrot’s decision “betrays the fundamental purpose of the Fourteenth Amendment’s Insurrectionist Disqualification Clause and gives a pass to political violence as a tool for disrupting and overturning free and fair elections,” FSFP said in a statement.
The FSFP Georgia loss follows on the heels of similar decisions in Arizona and North Carolina.
The final decision under Georgia election law rests with Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. The report notes Raffensperger said he received Beaudrot’s recommendation and will release his final decision soon.
Greene’s attorney, James Bopp Jr., claimed the legal challenge was just an anti-democratic attempt to remove Greene from office, according to a Daily Wire report.
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