Washington— A New Mexico state court judge ruled on Thursday that the founder of the ‘Cowboys for Trump’ group should be removed from his position as Otero County commissioner because of his involvement in the assault on the January 6, 2021 against the US Capitol.
Judge Francis Mathew of the 1st Judicial District Court of Santa Fe ordered Couy Griffin to be removed from office effective immediately and permanently barred him from seeking or holding federal or state office. . In his decisionMathew said Griffin is barred from public service under because he “engaged” in the Jan. 6 insurrection and was disqualified from holding elected federal or state offices the day he participated in the storming of the Capitol.
An obscure provision of the 14th Amendment, Section 3, states that “no person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress” or “hold any office, civil or military” if he, after taking an oath to uphold the Constitution, “has engaged in insurrection or rebellion against it, or given aid or comfort to its enemies.” The provision was originally intended to prohibit members of the Confederacy from holding office after the Civil War.
Griffin wasin March of illegally entering the restricted grounds of the United States Capitol on January 6 and in June to 14 days in prison, with credit for time served and one year of probation. He also had to pay a $3,000 fine and perform 60 hours of community service.
In his 49-page decision, Matthew accused Griffin of trying to “sanitize” his actions on Jan. 6. Griffin’s “protests and characterizations” regarding the events of January 6 are “not credible and amount to no more than an attempt to put on lipstick.” on a pig,” the judge said.
“The irony of Mr. Griffin’s argument that this court should refrain from applying the law and heed the wishes of the residents of District Two of Otero County who retained him as County Commissioner against a recall effort as he attempts to defend his participation in a mob insurrection whose purpose, by his own admission, was to overturn the results of a free, fair and legal election by the majority of the people of the whole country (the will of the people) did not escape this court,” Mathieu wrote.
Tuesday’s decision stems from a lawsuit filed in March by a group of New Mexico residents, represented by the group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW). New Mexico law allows any private citizen of the state to sue to remove someone who unlawfully holds public office there, and they argued that Griffin is disqualified from federal and state office. under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment due to his involvement in the Jan 6 assault on the Capitol and related events.
In his decision, Mathew mapped Griffin’s actions before and during the Jan. 6 attack, and said he and Cowboys for Trump played a “key role” in the “Stop the Steal” movement, participating in rallies and amplifying baseless claims that the 2020 presidential election was stolen.
After reviewing the events of January 6 and Griffin’s actions, Mathew viewed the attack on the Capitol as an insurrection and concluded that Griffin was engaged in it.
“Because state law required Mr. Griffin to swear an oath to uphold the Constitution as a county official and he did so, the court finds that he is subject to disqualification under Section three,” he wrote.
Mathews’ ruling marks the first time in more than 150 years that a court has disqualified a public official under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment and the first time that a court has found the events of Jan. 6 to be a insurgency, according to CREW.
The group’s chairman, Noah Bookbinder, called the decision a “historic victory for accountability”.
“Protecting American democracy means ensuring that those who violate their oaths to the Constitution are held accountable,” he said in a statement. “This ruling makes it clear that any current or former public official who took the oath to uphold the U.S. Constitution and then participated in the January 6 insurrection can and will be removed from office and barred from government service for their actions.”
Section 3 of the 14th Amendment was ratified in 1868 after the Civil War to prevent former Confederate officers and officials from holding office again unless they had received permission from Congress to do so. Although rarely invoked over the past 150 years, the group Free Speech for People has sued lawmakers in other states for their role in the Jan. 6 assault, though none have been successful.
An administrative law judge in Georgiain May that Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Republican, can stay on the ballot in the state after a group of voters tried to disqualify her for re-election under Section 3.
A North Carolina federal district court judge also blocked the state Board of Elections from hearing a challenge to GOP Rep. Madison Cawthorn’s candidacy. The challenge was rejected after Cawthorn lost its primary.