ATLANTA (CN) — Georgia U.S. Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene testified before an administrative law judge on Friday, defending her candidacy for reelection that a group of voters claims she is ineligible for due to her alleged facilitation of the riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
The case against the Republican congresswoman was brought last month by Free Speech for People, an election and campaign finance reform group, on behalf of a group of voters from Georgia's 14th Congressional District, which Greene has represented since three days before the insurrection.
"This is a solemn occasion, this is not politics, this is not theater. This is a serious case that the voters we represent have brought in order to offer proof their United States representative seeking reelection, Marjorie Taylor Greene, having taken the oath to support the constitution, then broke that oath and engaged in insurrection," said Ron Fein, representing Free Speech for the People, in his opening statement.
On Monday, U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg denied Greene’s request for a preliminary injunction and temporary restraining order in a retaliatory lawsuit she filed earlier this month asking the judge to prohibit enforcement of a law that the voters are using to challenge her eligibility.
In their administrative challenge, the voters argue that Greene is ineligible to run for reelection because she violated a provision of the 14th Amendment that disqualifies anyone “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.”
The provision was originally created to keep former Confederate officials from winning congressional power in the reconstructed government following the Civil War, a topic of which both defense attorneys referenced in comparison to their arguments throughout the hearing.
"This is not the type of insurrection where the leaders were standing in Richmond, Virginia, giving long-winded speeches to justify the mayhem," Fein said. "Rather, the leaders of this insurrection were among us. On Facebook, on Twitter, on corners of social media that would make your stomach churn."
Greene's lawyer, James Bopp Jr., argued that she did not actively engage in the insurrection and that the 14th Amendment provision "is about things like, which the people who drafted this well understood, many of them who were part of the victorious, thank the lord, Union army, and they knew what an insurrection or rebellion was."
"It was taking up arms, voluntarily joining the Confederate army. It was about working in the department for the confederate government. It was about providing supplies and equipment and materials for the people who were conducting the war. These were direct overt acts of insurrection," Bopp said.
Andrew Celli, another lawyer for the voters, cross-examined Greene about posts on her social media accounts and other statements she made around the time of the Capitol riot. Greene, far-right Republican and vocal supporter of former President Donald Trump, repeatedly responded that she didn’t recall them.
"Under my opinion, there was a tremendous amount of fraudulent things that happened in the election," she said when asked if she believed if the 2020 election had been stolen from Trump by Democrats.
"I was asking people to come to a peaceful march, which is something everyone is entitled to do under the First Amendment, but I was not asking them to actively engage in violence or any type of action," Greene said.
However, Celli noted the word "peaceful" was never mentioned in Greene's tweets.
Bopp argued the right to vote is at stake.
"They want to deny the right to vote to the thousands of people in the 14th District of Georgia by having Greene removed from the ballot. Those voters have a right to vote for the candidate of their choosing," he said. "By analyzing this procedure, the substantial constitutional and federal law violations that this candidacy challenge presents cannot be decided by this court."
During Bopp's questioning of Greene, he depicted her as having been victimized by the Capitol attack, which she has said was not organized by Trump supporters, in a tweet from her now-suspended account,
"Yes, I was in the House Chamber when it happened. I had to be evacuated to safety... Yes, I was a victim of the riot that day," Greene testified.
After the insurrection, Greene visited those arrested for their involvement in the Washington, D.C., jail, where she said she sang the national anthem with them and claimed they were being forced to "denounce the president that they love."
In February 2021, the House of Representatives stripped Greene of her seats on the Education and Labor Committee and the Budget Committee, with 11 votes in favor from fellow Republicans, due to multiple Facebook posts endorsing violence against Democrats.
Congressman Matt Gaetz, a Florida Republican, attended Friday's hearing in support of Greene. Trump also showed his support in a statement Thursday, incorrectly blaming Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and Governor Brian Kemp, both Republicans, for allowing the challenge against Greene, saying she is “going through hell in their attempt to unseat her."
Judge Charles Beaudrot will present findings from the hearing to Raffensperger, who will then determine if Greene is qualified to be on the ballot for the primary election on May 24.
Free Speech for People has filed similar challenges on behalf of voters in two other states as well. One filed in western North Carolina against Republican Congressman Madison Cawthorn, who spoke at the rally that preceded the Capitol riot, was blocked from moving forward by a federal judge last month. The judge wrote that laws approved by Congress in 1872 and 1898 mean the 14th Amendment provision doesn't apply to current House members.
The group also filed lawsuits against Congressmen Paul A. Gosar and Andy Biggs, both Arizona Republicans, but the Maricopa County Superior Court dismissed them Friday.
Read the Top 8
Sign up for the Top 8, a roundup of the day's top stories delivered directly to your inbox Monday through Friday.