After the Civil War, the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution extended citizenship to all people born in the United States, required that all Americans receive due process, and guaranteed equal protection of the laws to all citizens. But that was just the first section of the amendment.
The third section sought to disqualify those who took up arms against the United States from serving in Congress: “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.”
For generations, this provision wasn’t considered especially relevant, since members of Congress didn’t run around supporting insurrections against their own country. But early last year, the constitutional language became relevant anew as some right-wing members of Congress faced challenges to their eligibility to run for re-election based on the 14th Amendment.
In Georgia, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene is facing just such a challenge, which is why the radical congresswoman was in court on Friday — where her extraordinarily bad memory was put on display. NBC News reported:
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., on Friday repeatedly deflected questions about her involvement in the Capitol riot on Jan. 6, 2021, and efforts by former President Donald Trump to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.... “I don’t remember” was an answer she gave frequently during the hearing Friday.
Did Greene urge Trump to invoke martial law in order to claim illegitimate power? The Republican testified that she doesn’t remember. Did Greene speak with White House officials about Jan. 6? There’s video of her exiting the West Wing, boasting about a “great planning session,” but the Republican said she doesn’t remember that, either.
Did she ever hear anyone at the White House mention that Jan. 6 could turn violent? Once again, the Republican’s memory failed her. Pressed on her own record of extremist rhetoric, Greene simply couldn’t recall her own comments from last year. Asked about conversations with her GOP colleagues, the congresswoman once again drew a blank.
It’s only natural to wonder about the degree to which this was a carefully planned legal strategy. Greene was unlikely to confess on the witness stand to trying to overthrow the government, but straight up lying would’ve opened the door to perjury charges. “I don’t recall” and “I don’t remember” are convenient ways out: It’s extremely difficult for opposing counsel to prove what someone does or doesn’t not remember.
But there’s still the matter of what Greene should recall. As a Washington Post analysis put it, “Imagine telling a president to go so far as to declare martial law and … not remembering that? It would seem to be the kind of thing you’d easily recall happening or not.”
Quite right. We’re not talking about obscure events from decades ago. Last year, a group of Republicans plotted to overturn an election and derail the transfer of power to the rightful winner of an American presidential election. There’s ample evidence that Greene participated in this effort.
Indeed, the congresswoman literally said on camera, “You can’t allow it to just transfer power peacefully like Joe Biden wants and allow him to become our president.”
What does it say about Greene’s capacity to function as a member of Congress if none of this rings a bell? Shouldn’t it be deeply embarrassing for the Georgian to not have any recollection of her own actions?
Regardless, the local administrative law judge, Charles Beaudrot, will soon make a decision on whether to recommend barring Greene from the state’s ballot. At that point, the decision will likely shift to Brad Raffensperger, Georgia’s beleaguered secretary of state.
It’s worth noting for context that Georgia’s primary day is May 24, and early voting in the state begins a week from today. In other words, as Greene’s legal controversy unfolds, ballots will likely be cast before the matter is fully resolved.