The final phase of the Marjorie Taylor Greene inquisition came to an end this week. After Georgia Democrats spent weeks arguing that Greene needed to be removed from the primary ballot for “taking part in an insurrection,” Judge Charles Beaudrot announced that Greene remains eligible to appear on the ballot. That sent the decision to the Georgia Secretary of State. (Associated Press)
A judge in Georgia on Friday found that U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene can run for reelection, rejecting arguments from a group of voters who had challenged her eligibility over allegations that she engaged in insurrection. But the decision will ultimately be up to Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.
State Administrative Law Judge Charles Beaudrot announced his decision after a daylong hearing in April that included arguments from lawyers for the voters and for Greene, as well as extensive questioning of Greene herself.
State law says Beaudrot must submit his findings to Raffensperger, who has to decide whether Greene should be removed from the ballot.
Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who is also a Republican, accepted the judge’s findings later the same day. In announcing his decision, he declared Greene’s qualifications to represent her district as a question “for the voters of Georgia’s 14th Congressional District.”
Georgia’s top election official said Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene will remain on the GOP primary ballot following a judge’s ruling earlier Friday that rejected a bid to remove her over actions tied to the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.
“In this case, Challengers assert that Representative Greene’s political statements and actions disqualify her from office. That is rightfully a question for the voters of Georgia’s 14th Congressional District,” Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said in a decision upholding an administrative law judge’s ruling.
That’s how this case seemed destined to end from the beginning, largely because the underlying premise was so ridiculous. Rather than finding a way to beat her at the ballot box, Democrats were essentially trying to “cancel” Greene by taking her name off the ballot. The basis for the challenge was an accusation of an extremely serious crime. (Insurrection against the nation.)
But that’s a crime that Greene was never even charged with, to say nothing of being convicted. Even if you believe that the January 6th rioters were attempting an insurrection, keeping in mind that none of them have been charged with that either, it’s patently ridiculous to believe that someone who was legally on the premises and cowering in fear in the corridors as the rioters approached was guilty.
This case has helped to highlight a peculiarity of Georgia’s election laws that may cause even more problems in the future. An obscure facet of those laws states that any voter who is eligible to vote for a candidate can challenge that candidate’s qualifications by filing a written complaint, leading to a hearing before an administrative law judge. The challenge to Greene’s qualifications, as seen during the hearing before the administrative court, was based entirely on things she said or posted on social media. In other words, they were trying to remove her from the ballot based on political speech.
How many more people are going to get this idea and try it in the future? Based on virtually nothing at all, any voter from the opposing party can kick off a circus like this. Even if they have no chance of prevailing they will still be able to force the candidate to waste time and money defending themself and generate negative headlines to impede their chances. The bar for bringing such an action needs to be considerably higher and Georgia’s legislators should take a long, hard look at either rewriting that law or just scrapping that provision entirely.