The Supreme Court rejects the appeal of the ex-provincial commissioner who was banned due to the January 6 uprising

(Gemunu Amarasinghe / Associated Press)

The Supreme Court rejects the appeal of the ex-provincial commissioner who was banned due to the January 6 uprising


March 18, 2024

The Supreme Court on Monday rejected an appeal from a former New Mexico county commissioner who was removed from office for his participation in the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

Former Otero County Commissioner Couy Griffin, a cowboy pastor who gained national political fame by embracing then-president


Trump with a series of horse caravans is so far the only elected official barred from office in connection with the attack on the Capitol, which disrupted Congress as it tried to certify Joe Biden’s 2020 election victory over Trump.

During a 2022 trial in state court, Griffin received the first disqualification from office

well more than

a century under a provision of the 14th Amendment written to prevent former Confederates from serving in government after the Civil War.

Although the Supreme Court ruled this month that states do not have the option to exclude Trump or other candidates for federal office from the ballot, the justices said different rules apply to state and local candidates.

We conclude that states can disqualify persons who hold or attempt to hold state office, the judges wrote in an unsigned opinion.

New Mexico’s county commissioner will be barred from public office on January 6 for his actions

The outcome of the Griffin case could strengthen efforts to hold other state and local elected officials accountable for their involvement in the Jan. 6 attack.

Griffin, a Republican, was convicted in federal court on Jan. 6 of entering a restricted area on Capitol grounds and sentenced to 14 days in prison. The sentence was offset by time served after his arrest in Washington, where he had returned to protest Biden’s inauguration in 2021. That conviction is being appealed.

Griffin claims he entered the Capitol grounds on January 6 without realizing it had been designated a restricted area and attempted to lead a crowd in prayer using a bullhorn without using force.

The recent ruling in the Trump case ended an effort in dozens of states to end Trump’s Republican bid for president over claims that he helped incite the insurrection to prevent Biden, a Democrat, would replace him in the White House in 2020.

The insurrection charges against Griffin were filed on behalf of three New Mexico residents by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a left-wing group that also filed the lawsuit in Colorado seeking to disqualify Trump.

New Mexico elected official found guilty of felony Jan. 6 Capitol riotCREW Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington

has outlined the case for investigating several current state lawmakers who went to Washington on January 6.

In Griffin’s 2022 trial in state court, New Mexico Judge Francis Mathew recognized the Jan. 6 attack as an insurrection and ruled that Griffin aided that insurrection without committing violence, contributing to a delay in the congressional election process.

Griffin’s appeal of disqualification asserted that only Congress,


no state court, has the power to enforce the anti-insurrection clause of the 14th Amendment through legislation, and urged the Supreme Court to decide whether the events of January 6 constituted an insurrection “as defined in the Constitution.”

It also invoked Griffin’s rights to freedom of expression protection.

If the decision… is to stand, at least in New Mexico, it is now the crime of insurrection to gather people to pray together for the United States of America on the unmarked restricted grounds of the Capitol, says the Florida established attorney Peter Ticktin argued in lawsuits on behalf of Griffin.

Cowboy politician is the second person to appear in court in the January 6 insurrection

During the trial, Mathew, the judge, called Griffin’s free speech arguments self-serving and not credible, noting that the then-commissioner spread lies about the 2020 election being stolen from Trump in a series of speeches at rallies while traveling across the country country. beginning in New Mexico, calling on the crowd to join him in Washington on January 6 and join the war over the results of the presidential election.

Mathew said recordings from a videographer who accompanied Griffin outside the U.S. Capitol showed the county commissioner initiated the mob even after he saw mob members attacking police officers at close range and trying to forcefully break into the Capitol building.

The New Mexico Supreme Court later declined to hear the case after Griffin missed procedural deadlines.

On the third anniversary of the Jan. 6 attack this year, Griffin cast himself as a victim of political persecution while speaking before a rally in the rural community of Gillette, Wyo.


at the invitation of a Republican Party from the province.

“God is really allowing me to have some great days,” Griffin said. 6 was a day like no other. It was a day that showed a kind of patriotism I had never seen before, and I was honored to be there.

Cowboys for Trump leaders in solitary confinement after refusing coronavirus test

In 2019, Griffin cobbled together a group of rodeo acquaintances into the promotional group Cowboys for Trump, which organized horse parades to support Trump’s conservative message on gun rights, immigration controls and abortion restrictions.

While still a county commissioner, Griffin joined Republican colleagues in refusing to certify the results of the June 2022 primary election based on distrust of the voting systems used to count votes, even though the county’s elections official said province that there were no problems. The board ultimately approved the election on a 2-1 vote, with Griffin still voting no based on a gut feeling.

Griffin weathered a recall petition in 2021. Following his disqualification from office, Griffin was tried by a jury in his home country in March 2023 and acquitted of charges that he refused to register and disclose donors to Cowboys for Trump.

Lee, Riccardi and Sherman write for the Associated Press. Lee reported from Santa Fe, NM, and Riccardi reported from Denver.


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