Could the 14th Amendment boot Marjorie Taylor Greene from Congress?
Lawyers say one specific clause disqualifies sedition-abetting lawmakers like MTG and Madison Cawthorn from holding office.
It’s little secret — hell, it’s a point of pride for her — that Georgia Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene is one of the Republican Party’s most enthusiastic seditionists (to say nothing about being an antisemitic, anti-science, virulently conspiracy-addled weirdo). But a new effort from a voting rights group is now hoping to prove that the very insurrection she helped foment will be what keeps her from the ballot in November.
On Thursday morning, attorneys from the non-profit Free Speech For People advocacy org filed a complaint with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger on behalf of a group of local voters, arguing that Greene’s role in the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol disqualifies her from future federal office. The argument hinges on Part Three of 14th Amendment, known informally as the “Insurrectionist Disqualification Clause.” As the complaint notes, if applied, the clause — originally drafted to bar Confederate officials from government service in the wake of the Civil War — would render Greene ineligible for re-election and, if upheld by a judge, the state “shall withhold the name of the candidate from the ballot or strike such candidate’s name from the ballot if the ballots have been printed.”
“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,” Ron Fein, the legal director of Free Speech For People, said in a statement accompanying the complaint. “The Constitution disqualifies from public office any elected officials who aided the insurrection, and we look forward to asking Rep. Greene about her involvement under oath.”
If this all sounds vaguely familiar, that’s because a similar complaint was lodged against North Carolina Republican Rep. Madison Cawthorn, one of the GOP’s other enthusiastic coup-doers. That complaint was rejected by a Donald Trump-appointed judge earlier this month and now sits unresolved, after having been bounced around through the judiciary for reconsideration. Speaking with The New Yorker’s Charles Bethia, Fein said he expected the Greene suit to make it all the way to the Georgia Supreme Court, but noted that “just looking at the facts and law it’s a strong case.”
As the 14th Amendment makes clear:
No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice-President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, 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. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.
In Cawthorn’s case, the complaint was initially tossed on the extremely dubious legal grounds that the 1872 Amnesty Act not only nullified the 14th Amendment ban in regards to Civil War participants, but any future insurrectionists as well.
The complainants in Georgia’s case, however, are hoping that a hearing will give them ample opportunity to argue that Greene’s role in the Jan. 6 insurrection is disqualifying beyond any reasonable doubt, and that “she poses precisely the type of ongoing threat to the Republic that the Disqualification Clause was written to guard against.”