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RACHEL MADDOW

Could one member of Congress get a restraining order against another?

As long as there has been a U.S. Congress, there have been members who’ve disagreed with one another. In one crushing instance, there was even an example of brutal violence between lawmakers.

But the possibility of a restraining order is a new one. Politico reported yesterday:

For [Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez] — who was previously harassed by [Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene] in 2019 — top Democrats have discussed whether it’s possible for Ocasio-Cortez to seek a restraining order against Greene, including whether she had the legal standing to do so, according to multiple Democratic sources.

The Hill had a related report yesterday, noting that House Democratic leaders have “discussed the legality and logistics of” the New York Democrat seeking a restraining order against the Georgia Republican.

To briefly recap for those who may have missed it, there was an incident two weeks ago in which some Washington Post reporters saw Greene, whose record of radicalism cost her committee assignments, “aggressively confront” the Democratic congresswoman and demand to know why Ocasio-Cortez “supports terrorists.” The right-wing Georgian also shouted for the New York lawmaker to defend her “radical socialist” beliefs in some kind of public debate.

Ocasio-Cortez, who’s often known by her AOC initials, ignored Greene’s tantrum and walked away.

Soon after, CNN reported that Greene also targeted Ocasio-Cortez in 2019, taunting members of the New York congresswoman’s staff and making obnoxious comments through a mailbox slot outside the Democrat’s locked office.

NBC News had a report that added the GOP extremist “has had prior incidents of accosting and chasing people in public she disagrees with.”

joked at the time that under normal circumstances, one might consider seeking a restraining order against such a person. Evidently, for some Capitol Hill, this wasn’t a joke at all.

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Whenever I mention Greene, I hear from readers who make the case that it’s a mistake to mention Greene at all. She thrives on generating attention for her ridiculous antics, so there’s little to be gained by giving the Republican exactly what she wants.

I’m not unsympathetic to the argument. Greene is obviously a fringe, clownish figure and a crackpot conspiracy theorist whose nonsense is not to be taken seriously. It’s why readers have not seen me regularly writing up “ridiculous person says ridiculous thing” pieces.

But I continue to believe there’s a larger context that’s relevant beyond assorted daily madness. For one thing, when congressional leaders initiate conversations about restraining orders, there’s a political and historical significance to the developments.

For another, many Democratic lawmakers are genuinely concerned that their physical safety might be at risk around some of the more extremist members of the Republican caucus.

The latest nutty quote from some foolish provocateur is easy to overlook, but many of these stories about Greene have a broader significance

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