Destroying Democracy To Save It? Court Advances Effort to Block GOP Candidates from Ballots

Below is my column in the Hill on the recent decision of a federal judge to allow a challenge to Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R., Ga.) from appearing on the ballot as an insurrectionist. In my view, the underlying claim is meritless. The theory, supported by figures like Harvard Professor Lawrence Tribe, runs against the clear language and history of the Disqualification Clause of the 14th Amendment.

Here is the column:

As the country braces for the midterm elections, the left seems to be rallying behind three D’s: Democracy, Disinformation and Disqualification. The latter effort just received a huge boost from a judge in Georgia who has allowed a challenge to knock Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) off the ballot as an insurrectionist. Nothing says “democracy” like preventing others from voting.

Many of us have criticized Greene for her inflammatory rhetoric and her extreme views. No less dangerous, though, is the means being used by some of Greene’s critics to get rid of her. It is all part of a new movement to defend democracy by denying it. To paraphrase the Vietnam strategy, democracy can only be saved by destroying it through the denial of speech or the right to vote.

Many Democratic politicians and pundits have long pushed for censorship as vital to freedom. However, if such freedom-is-tyranny claims seem Orwellian, they are nothing compared to the push to disqualify dozens of candidates from appearing on ballots.

Judge Amy Totenberg ruled that critics could potentially strip Greene from the ballot due to her public comments before and after the Jan. 6, 2021, riot in Congress. Totenberg ruled that Greene’s critics could bring a challenge under the Constitution’s 14th Amendment, known as the “Disqualification Clause.” This is the same clause cited by some liberal members of Congress and legal experts as a way to bar dozens of Republicans, including former President Trump, from office for allegedly engaging in insurrection against the United States or giving aid and comfort to its enemies.

This argument most recently was used against Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.), who also has been opposed by House colleagues on both sides of the aisle. Cawthorn prevailed in a federal court, which dismissed that effort; an appeal of that ruling will be heard May 3 by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit in Richmond, Va.

There are similar efforts to block members like Arizona GOP Reps. Paul Gosar and Andy Biggs from appearing on state ballots.

Totenberg gave a green light to these constitutional claims despite both the constitutional text and history showing that the claims are meritless.

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