Marjorie Taylor Greene: Judge appears likely to allow Jan. 6 candidacy challenge against congresswoman

U.S. Judge Amy Totenberg of the Northern District of Georgia said during a lengthy hearing that she has “significant questions and concerns” about a recent ruling in a similar case, which blocked the same challenge against Rep. Madison Cawthorn, R-North Carolina.

A group of Georgia voters, backed by a coalition of constitutional scholars and liberal activists, filed the challenge against Greene with state election officials last month. Greene then filed his own lawsuit in federal court, asking Totenberg to close the proceedings at the state level.

Totenberg said he will issue a ruling next week, probably Monday. That is two days before a state judge is due to hold a hearing on the underlying question of whether Greene participated in or aided the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection and whether that disqualifies her from office.

James Bopp Jr., a conservative attorney representing Greene, said the challenge consisted of “50 pages of newspaper articles, rumors and political hyperbole.” He warned during the court hearing that if the impeachment is allowed to continue, it will encourage liberal groups to try to disqualify former President Donald Trump from running for re-election in 2024.

Friday’s hearing was the latest chapter in seemingly elusive efforts to hold top Republican officials accountable for Jan. 6, unfolding in a major congressional investigation, a federal criminal investigation that has largely focused on the Republicans themselves. rioters and in civil litigation.
The 14th Amendment to the US Constitution prohibits officials from holding elected office again if they supported an insurrection. Challengers claim that Greene cannot run for re-election because he “assisted” the Jan. 6 insurrection, allegedly planned with protest organizers, and “fomented” the violence that disrupted Electoral College certification.

They cited Greene’s own comments, including a video in which he explicitly said he opposed the peaceful transfer of power to President Joe Biden “because he didn’t win this election.”

Greene’s attorneys say she is not an insurrectionary and that disqualifying her would violate her First Amendment rights. She previously told CNN that she “has never encouraged political violence and she never will.” A spokesperson said she was not involved in planning any protests on January 6.

high risk confrontation

The anti-Greene challenge was put forward by the same groups that tried unsuccessfully to remove Cawthorn from the North Carolina Republican Party primary ticket. A Trump-appointed federal judge closed that challenge, ruling that a Civil War amnesty law passed in 1872 still applies and thus protected Cawthorn from being disqualified for his role in the Jan. 6 insurrection. .

Cawthorn has denied any wrongdoing regarding Jan. 6 and says he is not an insurrectionist.

Some of the leading experts on the Constitution’s “disqualification clause” criticized that judge’s conclusion. And on Friday, so did Totenberg, the Obama-appointed judge in Greene’s case.

“I don’t think the Amnesty Law is likely,” Totenberg said, siding with challengers, who said the 1872 law was retrospective and did not protect future insurgents.

Bryan Sells, a lawyer for the challengers, who are backed by the legal advocacy group Free Speech For People, added: “The absurdity of their argument shines like a beacon.”

Greene hired the same attorney, Bopp, who prevailed in the Cawthorn case. He noted Friday that no one has been charged with insurrection related to Jan. 6, “despite all the resources of the Justice Department and the FBI.” He also said that taking Greene off the ballot would be like “stripping voters of their right to vote and turning democracy upside down right before the election.”

The Republican firebrand filed the lawsuit against Georgia Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, whose office oversees parts of the challenge process. Raffensperger was infamously on the receiving end of a phone call in which Trump pressured him to “find” enough votes to undo Joe Biden’s victory in Georgia. Raffensperger refused to accompany them.

In the federal case, Raffensperger is represented by Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr, who is also a Republican. State officials want the judge to dismiss Greene’s lawsuit, which would allow the challenge to the candidacy to proceed before a state administrative law judge next week.

“He has an ongoing proceeding that complies with state law, and we would argue that it complies with federal law,” Russell Willard of the Georgia attorney general’s office said Friday, urging Totenberg to “allow the ongoing state proceeding and pending continues to bear fruit”.

A hearing in the underlying disqualification case is scheduled for Wednesday in Atlanta, where a state administrative law judge will determine whether Greene is qualified to appear on the GOP primary ticket. The election is May 25, and counties will begin mailing out absentee ballots later this month.

The administrative law judge has already denied a request for Greene to testify at a deposition. The challengers also demanded that he hand over a wide range of documents related to the 2020 and January 6 elections, including emails that he may have exchanged with organizers of the rally or members of extremist groups that were involved in the attack. . Greene opposes these efforts.

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