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Lawsuit seeks to keep GOP Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene from running for reelection

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

A new legal challenge in Georgia says the U.S. Constitution prohibits Republican Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene from running for office. WABE's Sam Gringlas reports from Atlanta.

SAM GRINGLAS, BYLINE: Marjorie Taylor Greene has deployed violent rhetoric against her political opponents and is a prominent spreader of false claims about the 2020 election.

RON FEIN: Marjorie Taylor Greene fomented an insurrection on January 6. She's a danger in office to the entire republic.

GRINGLAS: Ron Fein is the legal director at Free Speech for People. They're the nonprofit that's filed this complaint with the Georgia secretary of state. We should note that Greene says she's never encouraged political violence and this challenge is politically motivated. But Fein's legal argument is this. After the Civil War, Congress passed the 14th Amendment. It includes a section targeting former Confederates.

FEIN: And so they added to the U.S. Constitution a provision that says that no one who took an oath to support the Constitution but then broke that oath by engaging in insurrection or rebellion can ever hold federal or state public office again.

GRINGLAS: The thing is, there is no modern precedent testing this provision. Until January 2021, there hadn't really been any other insurrection, says Georgia attorney Page Pate.

PAGE PATE: And so not only is there no definition of what an insurrectionist is in the Constitution or any case law interpreting this section, but we don't even know who's supposed to make that determination. Who decides whether or not this person is an insurrectionist?

GRINGLAS: In Georgia, it's an administrative judge who's supposed to hold a hearing before kicking the case back to the secretary of state for a decision. But a similar challenge in North Carolina has stalled. GOP Congressman Madison Cawthorn got a federal judge to toss out a complaint from the same group. An appeal is pending. A court in Georgia could make a totally different decision. But Pate says removing Greene from the ballot might not be the only end game.

PATE: They want to have her questioned under oath, No. 1, to find out what involvement, if any, she had in this insurrection. And, No. 2, if she makes any false statement, she could be charged with perjury or perhaps some other crime.

GRINGLAS: If Greene does stay on the ballot, she's a heavy favorite for reelection.

For NPR News, I'm Sam Gringlas in Atlanta. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.