Federal court denies Rep. Greene’s motion for a preliminary injunction to block the challenge from proceeding; hearing before a state administrative law judge set for Friday, April 22 

ATLANTA, GA (APRIL 18, 2022) – A federal judge in Atlanta today denied Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene’s attempt to block a challenge, brought by Georgia voters, to her candidacy under Section Three of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, otherwise known as the Insurrectionist Disqualifications Clause. US District Judge Amy Totenberg ruled against Rep. Greene’s motion for a preliminary injunction to stop the challenge from proceeding this week before a state administrative law judge.

The ruling is in marked contrast to a March 4 ruling by a federal judge in North Carolina, who ruled that an 1872 law which gave amnesty to ex-Confederates provided amnesty as well to all future insurrectionists, effectively nullifying Section Three of the Fourteenth Amendment and blocking a similar challenge brought by North Carolina voters to Representative Madison Cawthorn’s candidacy for re-election. Last Thursday, the US Court of Appeals granted the North Carolina voters an expedited schedule for hearing their appeal of that ruling, with oral argument scheduled for May 3, 2022. 

As a result of Judge Totenberg’s ruling, the Georgia voters will have their challenge against Rep. Greene heard before a state administrative law judge in Atlanta, with a hearing currently scheduled for Friday, April 22, at 9:30 am, at the Office of State Administrative Hearings, 225 Peachtree Street NE, Suite 400, South Tower, in Atlanta. The Georgia voters, through their counsel, have issued a subpoena for Rep. Greene to appear at that hearing and testify under oath. 

The voters are represented by Free Speech For People, a nonpartisan, non-profit legal advocacy organization with leading constitutional law experts, which is serving as co-lead counsel in the matter, along with New York-based Emery Celli Brinckerhoff Abady Ward & Maazel LLP. Bryan Sells, an Atlanta-based civil rights lawyer specializing in voting rights and election law, is serving as local counsel. Free Speech For People also serves as co-lead counsel in the challenge to Rep. Cawthorn’s eligibility to appear on the 2022 ballot, and in similar challenges filed last week in Arizona against Rep. Andy Biggs, Rep. Paul Gosar, and State Rep. Mark Finchem, who is running for Secretary of State. 

Section Three of the Fourteenth Amendment, known as the Insurrectionist Disqualification Clause, provides: “No Person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress. . . who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress . . . to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof.” The purpose of the Insurrectionist Disqualification Clause, passed in the wake of the Civil War, is not to punish the oathbreaker but rather to protect the country. No criminal conviction or prior adjudication is required under the Insurrectionist Disqualification Clause, although Greene would be able to seek judicial review of an adverse decision.

Anyone seeking to run for public office in Georgia “shall meet the constitutional and statutory qualifications for the office being sought.” Under Georgia’s candidacy challenge statute, once a challenge is filed, the Secretary of State must request a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge of the Office of State Administrative Hearings to determine whether the candidate is qualified for office. The burden of proof then shifts to the candidate, who must “affirmatively establish [their] eligibility for office.” 

As set forth in the complaint the Georgia voters filed on March 24 before the Georgia Secretary of State, the publicly available evidence establishes that Greene helped facilitate the insurrection, before, during, and after January 6, 2021. Specifically, the evidence shows that she either helped to plan the attack on January 6, or alternatively helped to plan the pre-attack demonstration and/or march on the Capitol with knowledge that it was substantially likely to lead to the attack, and otherwise voluntarily aided the insurrection. Much of this evidence is in the public record and has been widely reported by numerous media outlets, including reports citing organizers of the pre-attack demonstration. In the weeks leading up to January 6, Greene publicly stated that violence might be necessary to keep Trump in power, calling the date “our 1776 moment” (a codeword used by violent extremists to refer to an attack on government buildings) and arguing:

You can’t allow it to just transfer power “peacefully” like Joe Biden wants and allow him to become our president because he did not win this election. He’s guilty of treason. It’s a crime punishable by death is what treason is. Nancy Pelosi is guilty of treason.

Shortly after she released that video, insurrectionists attacked the U.S. Capitol, seeking to block a peaceful transfer of power and calling for the death of U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other officials.

Since the insurrection, Representative Greene has attempted to defend the violence on January 6 as justified by the Declaration of Independence, calling convicted participants in the insurrections “political prisoners of war” and falsely claiming that the violence at the Capitol was perpetrated by “antifa” infiltrators or the FBI.

“It’s rare for any conspirator, let alone a Member of Congress, to publicly admit that the goals of their actions are preventing a peaceful transfer of power and the death of the president-elect and Speaker of the House, but that’s exactly what Marjorie Taylor Greene did,”  said Ron Fein, Legal Director of Free Speech For People. “The Constitution disqualifies from public office any elected officials who aided the insurrection, and we look forward to asking Representative Greene about her involvement under oath.”

“I believe in democracy. When I served in the Army, I had to take an oath of office to protect and defend the Constitution from all enemies, foreign and domestic,” said Michael Rasbury, one of the five voters in Georgia’s 14th congressional district bringing this challenge. “Everything I’ve read says Rep. Greene was involved in the Jan. 6th insurrection that was trying to override everything I believe in – Our Constitution, how we run elections, and how our government is set up. She should not be on the ballot.” 

While state election authorities cannot impose additional qualifications upon federal candidates, they can (as confirmed by then-Judge, now-Justice Neil Gorsuch) exclude candidates from the ballot who do not meet the qualifications established by the Constitution itself.

Free Speech For People and Our Revolution are co-leading a national campaign to ensure that election officials across the country follow the mandate of Section Three of the Fourteenth Amendment and bar elected officials who engaged in the insurrection, including former President Donald Trump, from appearing on any future ballot. More information about that campaign is available at www.14point3.org

Read the challenge here.

Read the order here.