By Jan Wolfe
WASHINGTON Reuters) -U.S. Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene should be allowed to run for reelection, a judge ruled on Friday, rejecting arguments by a group of Georgia voters that her comments about the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol made her unfit for federal office.
The ruling by Charles Beaudrot Jr., an administrative law judge in Atlanta, is only a recommendation. Georgia’s Republican secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, will make the final determination whether Greene, also a Republican, is qualified to run for reelection.
Greene, a prominent supporter of Republican former President Donald Trump who represents a Georgia district in the U.S. House of Representatives, is seeking reelection this year. The Republican primary is scheduled on May 24 and the general election on Nov. 8.
Greene, in comments to the media, has played down and justified the Jan. 6, 2021, U.S. Capitol assault by Trump supporters in their failed bid to block congressional certification of President Joe Biden’s 2020 election victory.
A Greene spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the judge’s ruling.
In a novel legal challenge, a group of Georgia voters accused Greene of violating a U.S. Constitution provision called the “Insurrectionist Disqualification Clause” by supporting an incendiary rally that preceded the attack on the Capitol.
The constitutional clause, added after the U.S. Civil War of the 1860s, prohibits politicians from running for Congress if they have engaged in “insurrection or rebellion” or “given aid or comfort” to the nation’s enemies.
In his ruling, Beaudrot wrote: “the Court concludes that the evidence in this matter is insufficient to establish that Rep. Greene, having previously taken an oath as a member of Congress … to support the Constitution of the United States … engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or (gave) aid or comfort to the enemies thereof.”
Trump at the preceding rally told his supporters to march to the Capitol and “fight like hell,” repeating his false claims that the election was stolen through widespread voter fraud. The Trump supporters attacked police, ransacked parts of the Capitol and sent lawmakers into hiding for their own safety.
“I was asking people to come for a peaceful march, which everyone is entitled to do,” Greene told the judge at an April hearing on the effort to block her from the ballot. “I was not asking them to actively engage in violence.”
(Reporting by Jan Wolfe; Editing by Scott Malone, Leslie Adler and Chizu Nomiyama)