Couy Griffin Ruling: Elected Officials Can’t Just “Snub Noses at Constitution”

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  • Mario O. Jimenez III Executive Director

Otero County Commissioner Couy Griffin was removed from office for his role in an insurrection, a Santa Fe court has ruled. The ruling, which came after a two-day bench trial in August, also precludes him from running for office in the future.  

The ruling came in a case brought by three private citizens from New Mexico. It was based on Section 3 of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, which bars any person who took an oath as an officer of the state to support the Constitution. This is the first time the 1868 law has been applied to officials who participated in the Jan. 6 revolt—and it may set a precedent nationwide. 

“Judge Matthew’s decision is a signal to elected officials everywhere who want to snub their noses at the constitution, foment mob violence and disobey the law,” said Mario Jimenez, Executive Director of Common Cause New Mexico. “Our elected officials – and candidates—must obey the law. They are not above it. That’s the very essence of democracy, and this ruling affirms it.”  

Common Cause filed an “amicus brief,” also known as a friend of the court brief, in support of the plaintiffs.  

“We’ve been particularly concerned about Griffin’s actions after he returned from serving his sentence for trespassing during the Jan. 6th insurrection,” said Jimenez. “Without evidence, he attempted to overturn the certification of our own election and disobey state law on the basis of a ‘gut feeling.’”  

Jimenez said that Griffin has shown no signs of letting up, leading the Otero Commission in a subsequent attempt to sue the state for unproven election irregularities and threatening to not cooperate with the Secretary of State unless certain laws were passed to restrict access to the ballot. 

The Sept. 6 ruling was based on documentary evidence of Griffin rallying the Jan. 6 mob, his own social posts, and statements made on a bus tour to encourage attendance at the event.  

Griffin himself presented no evidence and the judge found his arguments to sanitize his actions without merit.  “His protestations and his characterizations of his actions and the events of January 6, 2021 are not credible and amounted to nothing more than attempting to put lipstick on a pig,” Matthew stated.  

“We hope this historic ruling will be applied to others who violate the law in obedience to conspiracy theories and disregard their oath of office,” said Jimenez. 

To read the full amicus brief, click here.