It’s official: A political official has been kicked out of office for getting involved in the January 6th insurrection A New Mexico judge on Tuesday ordered Couy Griffin, an Otero County Commissioner, to be removed from his elected office for participating in the attack.
The ruling is a first since the Jan. 6 attack: Judge Francis J. Mathew ruled that Griffin violated Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, the Disqualification Clause, which prohibits anyone who “hold[s] any office, civil or military, under the United States” from engaging in “insurrection or rebellion” against the country. The judge’s decision marks the first time since 1869 that a public official has been ousted under the clause.
Couy Griffin is an avid supporter of former President Donald Trump and founder of the group “Cowboys for Trump.” He was elected as a commissioner of Otero County, New Mexico, in 2018, and has since become the target of multiple attempts to remove him from office.
Griffin’s belief that the 2020 election was stolen has also extended into his duties as county commissioner: In June, he was a key player in a showdown with New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver (D) who had to ask the state’s Supreme Court to force the Otero County Commission to certify primary election results after the GOP-led panel refused, espousing conspiracy theories that the voting machines were rigged.
In 2021, citizens tried to recall Griffin for using his position to promote Cowboys for Trump, among other alleged misconduct, but the petitioners couldn’t acquire enough signatures to trigger an election.
But state law allows private citizens to file a lawsuit to remove county officials from office. So, three New Mexico residents—Marco White and Leslie LaKind of Santa Fe and Mark Mitchell of Los Alamos—petitioned for Griffin to be disqualified from holding public office, with support from the nonpartisan watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW).
Griffin had brought multiple firearms with him to Washington, D.C. on the day of the attack, and gave speeches “encouraging people to go to Washington and stop the transfer of power,” Joseph Goldberg, an attorney for the plaintiffs, argued. Griffin then passed through three separate barriers to get to the Capitol building, Goldberg said during the trial in August.
The plaintiffs argued that Griffin had taken up a leadership position within the mob.
Griffin rebutted by saying that he went to D.C. to peacefully protest the “illegitimate election results.”
“I didn’t break anything. I didn’t assault anybody,” he said in his opening statement. “I just walked up to the top of the Capitol.
But photographic evidence suggested otherwise: Goldberg presented pictures of Griffin scaling a wall to get closer to the Capitol building.
On Tuesday morning, Judge Francis J. Mathew ruled that Griffin violated Section 3 of the 14th Amendment. Attempts in other states to bar from office members of Congress who rhetorically supported the insurrection and voted against certifying the election results — including Madison Cawthorn and Marjorie Taylor Greene — have so far been unsuccessful.
Judge Mathew concluded that Griffin’s actions before, during and after the insurrection flew in the face of his oath to the U.S. Constitution, therefore disqualifying him from holding state office. “Nineteenth-century Americans would have regarded Mr. Griffin as being ‘leagued’ with the January 6 insurrectionists because he acted in concert with those insurrectionists and committed several overt acts supporting the insurrection,” the ruling reads.
“This is a historic win for accountability for the January 6th insurrection and the efforts to disrupt the peaceful transfer of power in the United States,” CREW President Noah Bookbinder said in a statement. “”This decision makes clear that any current or former public officials who took an oath to defend the U.S. Constitution and then participated in the January 6th insurrection can and will be removed and barred from government service for their actions.”
Read the judge’s ruling below: