U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) delivers an ?America First response? to the U.S. President Joe Biden?s State of the Union speech from a hotel room in Washington, U.S., March 1, 2022.
U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) delivers an ?America First response? to the U.S. President Joe Biden?s State of the Union speech from a hotel room in Washington, U.S., March 1, 2022. Reuters / LEAH MILLIS

Republican U.S. Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene entered a Georgia courtroom on Friday to face a challenge by a group of voters trying to block her from the ballot, citing a post-Civil War policy aimed at keeping insurrectionists from office.

In a novel legal challenge filed with the office of the Georgia secretary of state, the voters said Greene, a supporter of former President Donald Trump, has violated a provision of the U.S. Constitution known as the "Insurrectionist Disqualification Clause."

The clause, passed after the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s, prohibits politicians from running for Congress if they have engaged in "insurrection or rebellion" or "given aid or comfort" to the nation's enemies.

A hearing before administrative law judge Charles R. Beaudrot is expected to last most of the day. Beaudrot has not said whether he will issue a ruling on Friday.

Ron Fein, a lawyer for the voters seeking Greene's disqualification, said in his opening remarks that the congresswoman played an "important role" in instigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.

"In some cases, the mask falls and she shows us exactly what she intended," Fein said.

Greene, who sat silently through the beginning of the proceeding, is seeking re-election this year, with the Republican primary scheduled for May 24 and the general election on Nov. 8.

During media interviews, Greene has downplayed and justified the Jan. 6, 2021, assault on the Capitol by Trump supporters in their failed bid to block congressional certification of President Joe Biden's 2020 election victory. Greene this month said Democrats and journalists have pushed an "over-dramatization" of that day's events.

The voter challenge is being spearheaded by a group called Free Speech for People that advocates for campaign finance reform. A similar challenge backed by the same group against Republican U.S. Representative Madison Cawthorn failed when a federal judge in North Carolina dismissed that suit on March 4.

On the conservative TV outlet Newsmax on Wednesday, Greene rejected the group's challenge.

"I can't believe this judge has not thrown this case out and seen this case for what it is: nothing but a big, funded scam for the Democrats trying to control our elections," Greene said.

She is expected to testify under oath on Friday and to argue that removing her from the ballot would be both unfair to her and to voters in her conservative-leaning district. Greene is expected to appeal any ruling against her, and has already brought parallel litigation in U.S. federal court seeking to halt the administrative proceeding.

In a recent court filing, Greene's lawyers said she "vigorously denies that she aided and engaged in insurrection to obstruct the peaceful transfer of presidential power."

In his opening statement, her attorney James Bopp, a prominent Republican Party lawyer, said the legal challenge threatens Greene's free speech rights.

"Fundamentally, First Amendment rights are at stake, not only the right to vote, as I've mentioned, or the right to run for office," Bopp said.

U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg on Monday ruled that the challenge to Greene's fitness for office can proceed.

Absentee ballots will start to be mailed on April 25.