Marjorie Taylor Greene can stay on the ballot
Group had wanted outspoken Congresswoman booted from the ballot for insurrection
Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene is eligible to run for re-election, a judge ruled Friday. (AP Photo/John Bazemore, Pool)
Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene is eligible to appear on the ballot for re-election after a judge determined she did not participate or plan the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.
Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger signed off on the judge’s opinion late Friday, making the ruling official.
A group of voters pointed to video and social media statements made by Greene containing violent rhetoric against Democratic politicians and a Jan. 5 interview in which she referred to Jan. 6 as “our 1776 moment.” Greene’s attorneys said the language she used was typical political hyperbole and references to Jan. 6 referred to a plan to challenge ballots confirming President Joe Biden’s win, not encouraging violence.
The group challenging her candidacy also cited a text message from Greene to White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows sent Jan. 17, 2021, in the wake of the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol show Greene was less than honest in her responses during a hearing last month.
In a 19-page ruling, Judge Charles Beaudrot ruled that the attorneys for the voters did not provide evidence that Greene played any role in the violence, either participating or communicating with alleged planners.
“The evidence does not show Rep. Greene engaged in months of planning and plotting to bring about the Invasion and defeat the orderly transfer of power provided for in our Constitution. Her public statements and heated rhetoric may well have contributed to the environment that ultimately led to the Invasion,” he wrote, referencing comments made by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. “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.”
“This case, like all cases in all legal proceedings, must be decided based upon the evidence adduced at the hearing,” Beaudrot concluded. “It is true that absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. But the absence of evidence supporting Challengers’ case means that they have failed to meet their burden of proof and establish that Rep. Greene engaged in insurrection at some time after taking her oath on January 3, 2021. This matter must be decided based upon a preponderance of admissible evidence. One ambiguous statement on January 5, 2021, which appears to be the only direct post-oath evidence supporting Challengers’ case, is simply not enough. Challengers have failed to meet their burden of proof.”
Beaudrot did not rule on whether the Capitol riot amounted to an insurrection, writing that because Greene was not a participant, it is not the court’s place to make that determination.
Greene’s office was not immediately available for comment, but Greene’s Congressional Twitter account posted an image of Beaudrot’s conclusion with the word “ACQUITTED” in all caps.
Early voting for the 2022 primary elections began Monday in Georgia. Ballots were printed before Greene’s hearing last month and included Greene’s name in her district.
Free Speech for People, the non-profit public advocacy group that brought the lawsuit on the voters’ behalf, said in a statement that Beaudrot’s decision was in error and vowed to appeal the decision to the Georgia Superior Court.
This story was written and produced by the Georgia Recorder which is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Georgia Recorder maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor John McCosh for questions: [email protected] Follow Georgia Recorder on Facebook and Twitter.
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