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Greene Cleared to Run After Judge Tosses Insurrection Case (2)

May 6, 2022, 7:01 PMUpdated: May 6, 2022, 10:26 PM

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) did nothing that would constitutionally bar her from seeking reelection, a judge ruled Friday, and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger affirmed the finding, clearing Greene to seek reelection.

Voters seeking to keep her from running didn’t prove Greene supported an insurrection on Jan. 6, 2021, state Judge Charles Beaudrot wrote in a recommendation to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.

The secretary of state, whom Greene has repeatedly and falsely accused of covering up election fraud, later accepted Beaudrot’s findings in a two-page filing.

“It is hereby decided that Respondent Marjorie Taylor Greene is qualified to be a candidate for the office of United States Representative for Georgia’s 14th Congressional District,” Raffensperger wrote.

Hours earlier, Beaudrot released his opinion that attorneys for the voters presented so little evidence that there was no need to decide whether the 14th Amendment or a subsequent law, the Amnesty Act of 1872, applies to Greene and other elected officials today.

“The difficulty with Challengers’ theory is the lack of evidence …. Challengers presented no persuasive evidence Rep. Greene took any action—direct physical efforts, contribution of personal services or capital, issuance of directives or marching orders, transmissions of intelligence, or even statements of encouragement—in furtherance thereof on or after January 3, 2021,” Beaudrot wrote.

“To the contrary, the evidence shows that she was inside the Capitol building at the time, and unaware of the Invasion until proceedings were suspended at approximately 2:29 p.m. on January 6, 2021,” Beaudrot found.

Attorneys for Free Speech for People, a progressive advocacy group representing voters, said Friday that they will appeal the decision in state court.

Insurrection Clause

Attorneys for Free Speech have brought complaints against Republican politicians who supported calls for overturning the 2020 presidential election results and who praised some of the Jan. 6 rioters. They’ve cited the insurrection clause of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution.

None of the cases have so far succeeded, although Greene’s progressed further than any other when a federal judge rejected her attempts to keep the Georgia state board from holding a hearing and requiring her to testify.

Similar efforts against sitting members of the House of Representatives in Arizona and Indiana have been rejected, and the group’s effort to block Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R) from seeking reelection in North Carolina has been unsuccessful.

A federal judge issued an injunction to keep the North Carolina State Board of Elections from even holding hearings and refused to let the Free Speech lawyers intervene, although those orders are under appeal at the Fourth Circuit.

The Greene 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,” lawyers for the voters said in a statement. “We urge Secretary Raffensperger to take a fresh look at the evidence presented in the case and reject the judge’s recommendation.”

All sides involved agree that the events of January 6 were “despicable,” Beaudrot said in his ruling. He added the sides disagreed on whether they constituted an “insurrection,” under the 14th Amendment, Section 3, which bars anyone who violates their oath of office by participating in one from seeking office. He noted that Greene took her oath three days before the riots.

Because the voters provided no evidence that Greene played a part in the attack, and speech doesn’t meet the definition of insurrection, Beaudrot said there was no need to address the Constitutional claim.

‘Truly Tragic’

Still, he made clear that riot was a scar on the country.

“The events that occurred on January 6, 2021, are truly tragic. Multiple lives were lost, including those of law enforcement officers who died defending the Capitol. Many sustained injuries, some of them permanent and life-changing,” the judge wrote.

“It is among the saddest and most tragic days in the history of our American Republic. The well documented images of the events of the day are painful in the extreme.”

Beaudrot’s also ruled that Greene’s “heated rhetoric may well have contributed to the environment that ultimately led to the Invasion. But 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.”

Attorney James Bopp, Jr. representing Greene, blasted the attempts to keep Greene from running.

“The courts need to make it clear that such tactics will not be tolerated in this country — you have the right to run and campaign against candidates you disagree with — you don’t have the right to use a state bureaucracy to eliminate your competition, clearing your path to victory,” Bopp said in a statement.”

(Updates throughout to include Raffensperger’s decision)

To contact the reporter on this story: John Holland at jholland1@bloombergindustry.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Bernie Kohn at bkohn@bloomberglaw.com; Meghashyam Mali at mmali@bloombergindustry.com