A New Mexico state judge used a 14th Amendment provision Tuesday to order the removal of an Otero County official, who co-founded Cowboys for Trump, from public office due to his presence at the U.S. Capitol building on January 6, 2021.
Judge Francis Mathew of the 1st Judicial District Court in Santa Fe, New Mexico, disqualified Otero County Commissioner Couy Griffin from his post effective immediately under Section Three of the 14th Amendment. The clause prohibits those sworn an oath to uphold the Constitution from holding federal or state office if they “have engaged in insurrection or rebellion.”
U.S. officials ratified the provision initially meant to prevent members of the Confederacy from serving in public office shortly after the Civil War.
Mathew wrote in a 49-page decision that Griffin “engaged in … the attack on the United States Capitol and surrounding planning, mobilization, and incitement were an ‘insurrection’ against the Constitution of the United States” just before Congress was scheduled on January 6 to certify the results of the 2020 presidential election.
On the day of the protest, Mathew wrote that Griffin and the organization Cowboys for Trump played a key role in mobilizing the Stop the Steal movement ahead of the January 6 protest and allegedly “illegally breached security barriers surrounding the Capitol complex on the Capitol’s West Front grounds.”
The state judge accused Griffin of trying to “sanitize” his involvement during the protest-turned-riot at the Capitol and deemed his credibility amounted to “nothing more than attempting to put lipstick on a pig.”
“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,” Mathew wrote.
CBS News reports the ruling comes after a group of New Mexico residents filed a lawsuit against Griffin last March, around the same time when authorities convicted him for his involvement at the U.S. Capitol. Griffin’s conviction resulted in him serving 14 days in jail, one year of supervised release, and a $3,000 fine with 60 hours of community service.
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), which represented the group of residents that argued for Griffin’s removal, applauded the judge’s decision, adding it marks the first time since 1869 that a court has disqualified a public official using the 14th Amendment provision.