New Mexico County Commissioner/Capitol Rioter Meets Consequences Of Own Actions
Today a judge in New Mexico tossed a county commissioner out of office for participating in an insurrection on January 6, 2021 — relieving a public official of his duties under the Fourteenth Amendment for the first time since Reconstruction.
Defendant Couy Griffin is disqualified under Section Three of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States because (1) he took an oath to support the Constitution of the United States as an “executive ... officer of any State,” (2) the January 6, 2021 attack on the United States Capitol and surrounding planning, mobilization, and incitement were an “insurrection” against the Constitution of the United States, and (3) Defendant “engaged in” that insurrection after taking his oath.
Couy Griffin, the founder of Cowboys for Trump who flogged election lies, rallied participants, and breached the Capitol with the mob that day, was convicted in March of unlawfully entering a restricted area. New Mexico allows any citizen to bring a quo warranto action to remove a public officer, and so a handful of good Samaritans backed up by Citizens for Ethics and Responsibility in Washington (CREW) and some fancy lawyers sued Griffin to get him off the Otero County Commission.
New Mexico District Court Judge Francis J. Matthew outlined Griffin's preparations for the event, including packing multiple firearms for the trip cross-country and exhorting his supporters that "We want to win it through our democratic process, but losing is not an option. We'll win it ... in the ballot box or we'll win it in the street.”
"On social media and in public speeches, Mr. Griffin and Cowboys for Trump spent months normalizing that violence may be necessary to keep President Trump in office, and urged their followers to come to Washington, D.C. on January 6 to answer President Trump's call," the court wrote, adding:
Video from early in the morning of January 6 shows Mr. Griffin working up ‘Trump supporters in Washington, D.C. by telling them Vice President Pence is “gonna have to find a real deep hole to craw into” and that “we'll all be lining up at his house if he doesn't come through.” PX 38. Later in the video, someone near Mr. Griffin says, “storm the Capitol.” Id. Griffin also asked a man, “Where's your gun at? That's what I want to know.”
So much for the bullshit about Capitol Riot defendants being poor, innocent "tourists." But in case there was any further confusion, Judge Matthew spent several pages describing the violence of that day in support of the mob's stated goal of disrupting a congressional proceeding.
"The term 'insurrection,' as understood by knowledgeable nineteenth-century Americans and Section Three's framers, referred to an (1) assemblage of persons, (2) acting to prevent the execution of one or more federal laws, (3) for a public purpose, (4) through the use of violence, force, or intimidation by numbers," he wrote, concluding that the events of that day clearly meet the standard of an "insurrection," and going on to describe Griffin's role in the mob.
Having breached the building, Griffin "us[ed] a bullhorn to gain the crowd's attention. As he attempted to lead the mob in prayer, he riled them further." And he threatened more violence if Biden was inaugurated, returning to DC on January 17 only to be arrested for his conduct 11 days prior.
So when Griffin, who parted ways with his counsel early in the proceedings and represented himself pro se at the trial, tried to paint himself an innocent bystander framed by Antifa agitators and FBI plants, the court was not impressed. Griffin literally referenced that stupid "Ray Epps" conspiracy in his statements to the court. Which was ... a choice!
But not a good one, since the judge described Griffin's characterization of the events that day as "not credible and amount[ing] to nothing more than attempting to put lipstick on a pig."
And Griffin's insistence that the people of his district who elected him were entitled to select their own leader also made a big impression on Judge Matthew. But again, not in a good way:
The irony of Mr. Griffin's argument that this Court should refrain from applying the law and consider the will of the people in District Two of Otero County who retained him as a county commissioner against a recall effort as he attempts to defend his participation in an insurrection by a mob whose goal, by his own admission, was to set aside the results of a free, fair and lawful election by a majority of the people of the entire country (the will of the people) has not escaped this Court.
The Fourteenth Amendment says that "No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice-President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. And so, having found that the events of that day constituted an insurrection which Griffin engaged in, the court had no trouble finding that he should be disqualified from office.
“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. Protecting American democracy means ensuring those who violate their oaths to the Constitution are held responsible,” CREW President Noah Bookbinder said of the ruling. “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.”
God willing. So long, cowboy.
And on that happy note, OPEN THREAD.
[Opinion via CREW]
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Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.