On February 4, the House of Representatives voted to remove Georgia representative Marjorie Taylor Greene from her House committee assignments. The Republican representative has long been a controversial figure due to her continued support of conspiracy theories, such as QAnon.
During the vote, eleven House Republicans voted against their party and joined Democrats to remove Greene from her committee assignments on the House budget and House education committees. As a result of this vote, Greene has lost a great deal of power to create new legislation and work with other lawmakers.
The move comes after the January 6 riot at the Capitol building, with Democrats and some Republicans calling for greater accountability on hateful speech and misinformation. Some members of the House saw Greene as partially responsible for this, due to her comments toward survivors of school shootings and current elected officials as well as her support of conspiracy theories. She questioned whether the experiences of victims of gun violence in schools were real and not staged, and as recently as 2019, she was seen making fun of Parkland school shooting survivor David Hogg. She has also liked social media posts calling for executions of prominent Democrats, such as Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama. Additionally, Greene has shown support for dark conspiracy theories, including believing that a plane did not hit the Pentagon building on 9/11.
On February 3, Greene apologized during a closed meeting with Republican lawmakers over her past comments over QAnon and other conspiracy theories. She also clarified her beliefs to the House on February 4, saying she believes 9/11 was real and some of her conspiracy theory beliefs were misguided. The rhetoric surrounding Representative Greene has had a significant impact on students. “I have a pretty mixed opinion on this issue,” Morgan Brown (’21) said. “I think that Rep. Greene is crazy and some of the comments she has made or liked on social media in the past are not okay. So on one hand, since the First Amendment doesn’t protect violence, I think she should face consequences. On the other hand, I’m a little worried about the precedent this sets, because punishing people for speech is a slippery slope.”
Brown went on to explain, “From my understanding, the main reason she’s losing her committee seats is because she ‘incited violence’ that led to the Capitol riot on Jan. 6, but I haven’t been able to find a comment where she instigated violence in that context. If we start judging people based on speech and not actions, that has to apply across the board, and if we bar every politician who makes a false or off-putting comment, we wouldn’t have any politicians left. At the end of the day, the people of Georgia elected her to represent them; people say that her comments are a danger to our democracy, but I think it also hurts democracy to not let an elected official do her job.”
Sophomore Lizzy Bassett sees the vote as a turning point for young adults beginning to participate in our nation’s democracy. “I feel like it’s hard as someone learning to be an active part of a democracy knowing that there are people who are actively trying to undermine that democracy,” Bassett said. “I think it’s especially frustrating from a change-making perspective when I want to be someone who advocates for historically oppressed groups to know that there is someone in power who will do everything they can to make that not possible. From a citizen perspective, I think it’s really scary that there is someone like that with that much power.”