By BRINLEY HINEMAN, Associated Press

ATLANTA (AP) — A judge on Wednesday upheld the disqualification of a Georgia House candidate over citizenship requirements.

Maria Palacios had filed a lawsuit seeking to overturn Secretary of State Brian Kemp’s decision before the primary election in May to remove her from the ballot.

Palacios was the only Democrat running in the primary for the Gainesville-area seat. Born in Mexico, she has lived in Georgia since 2009 and became a U.S. citizen in 2017, her lawsuit says.

Kemp said Palacios didn’t meet a requirement in the Georgia Constitution that candidates be “citizens of this state for two years.”

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Craig Schwall sided with Kemp.

“States have fallen all over themselves to make it harder for people of color to hold office,” said lawyer Sean Young with the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia, who represented Palacios.

Young said they plan to “go straight to the Georgia Supreme Court” and will ask for the case to be heard before Labor Day.

The general election is scheduled for November. With no Democrat on the ballot, the Republican candidate is running unopposed as of now.

“We applaud Judge Schwall’s ruling in this case, and we thank Attorney General Chris Carr for his office’s effective defense of the Georgia Constitution and state law,” secretary of state spokeswoman Candice Broce said in an email.

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