WASHINGTON — A judge in Latest Mexico on Tuesday ordered a county commissioner convicted of participating within the Jan. 6 riot on the Capitol faraway from office under the 14th Amendment, making him the primary public official in greater than a century to be barred from serving under a constitutional ban on insurrectionists holding office.
The ruling declared the Capitol assault an revolt and unseated Couy Griffin, a commissioner in Latest Mexico’s Otero County and the founding father of Cowboys for Trump, who was convicted earlier this yr of trespassing when he breached barricades outside the Capitol through the attack. The judge’s order grabbed the eye of advocates across the country who’ve been pushing to make use of the 14th Amendment to disqualify former President Donald J. Trump and elected officials who worked with him in in search of to overturn the 2020 election from holding office in the longer term.
In his decision, Judge Francis J. Mathew of the Latest Mexico District Court said the revolt on Jan. 6 included not only the mob violence that unfolded that day, but in addition the “surrounding planning, mobilization and incitement” that led to it.
“Mr. Griffin is constitutionally disqualified from serving,” the judge wrote.
Liberal groups have filed legal challenges in Arizona, Latest Mexico, North Carolina and Wisconsin in search of to dam lawmakers accused of supporting the Jan. 6 rioters — including some outstanding Republican members of Congress — from holding office under the Structure. Until Tuesday, none had succeeded.
“This just went from being theoretical to being something that’s legally recognized and legally possible,” said Noah Bookbinder, director of Residents for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a nonpartisan watchdog organization that filed suit against Mr. Griffin on behalf of a bunch of Latest Mexico residents. “That’s hugely significant. It could have real implications for safeguarding the country from people related to the trouble to overturn the last election.”
Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, adopted during Reconstruction to punish members of the Confederacy for taking on arms against their country within the Civil War, declares that “no one shall” hold “any office, civil or military, under the US, or under any state, who, having previously taken an oath” to “support the Structure,” had then “engaged in revolt or rise up against the identical, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof.”
Reconstruction-era federal prosecutors brought civil actions in court to oust officials linked to the Confederacy, and Congress in some cases refused to seat members, in keeping with the Congressional Research Service.
However the last time the section of the amendment was enforced was in 1919, when Congress refused to seat a socialist member who was accused of giving aid and luxury to Germany during World War I.
An appeals court ruled in May that participants in an revolt against the U.S. government may very well be barred from holding office, however the goal of that case, Representative Madison Cawthorn, Republican of North Carolina, had already lost his primary, rendering the matter essentially moot.
In a challenge to the candidacy of Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, Republican of Georgia, a judge also said the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol qualified as an revolt but said that there was insufficient evidence to prove that Ms. Greene engaged in it.
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In some ways, Mr. Griffin’s case was a cleaner win for advocates in search of to punish officials connected to the riot because he was a part of the mob that stormed the Capitol, not a lawmaker sitting inside.
On Jan. 6, Mr. Griffin and a videographer clambered over barricades on the Capitol and made their way onto the inauguration stage in front of the constructing. There, Mr. Griffin spent greater than an hour addressing the mob, at times speaking through a bullhorn. He later said that he had been attempting to guide them in prayer.
In March, Judge Trevor N. McFadden, presiding at a bench trial in Federal District Court in Washington, found Mr. Griffin guilty of 1 misdemeanor count of illegally entering a restricted area on the Capitol and acquitted him of one other that accused him of disorderly conduct. Mr. Griffin was sentenced in June to 14 days in prison.
Mr. Griffin’s attempts to challenge Mr. Trump’s defeat within the 2020 election — including issuing calls for violence on behalf of the previous president — preceded the events of Jan. 6, in keeping with the ruling by the judge in Latest Mexico.
As early as November 2020, the ruling said, Mr. Griffin attended Stop the Steal rallies in his home state, a few of them with a militia group often called the Latest Mexico Civil Guard. He also took part in a multicity bus tour arranged by the pro-Trump group Women for America First designed to recruit protesters to go to Washington for Mr. Trump’s speech on Jan. 6, through which the president called on his supporters to “fight like hell” against his election loss and urged them to march to the Capitol while Congress was meeting to verify it.
At a stop in The Woodlands, Texas, on Jan. 1, 2021, the ruling said, Mr. Griffin urged a crowd to view the attempts to overturn the election as a last-ditch fight, comparing it to the famous standoff on the Alamo.
“It is a battle and a war we cannot lose,” Mr. Griffin said.
Two days later, in Bowling Green, Ky., Mr. Griffin told a crowd that a war was underway with “the elitist, gross, wicked, vile people,” adding, “We got to get our country back.”
In Atlanta, on Jan. 4, the ruling said, Mr. Griffin anticipated that there may very well be violence when crowds of individuals descended on Washington for Mr. Trump’s speech. Talking to one other crowd, he called on “men from across our nation to return to Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6, since it is perhaps a battle.”
Mr. Griffin represented himself within the 14th Amendment case. Nicholas Smith, a lawyer who represented him during his criminal trial, declined to comment.
Even after his criminal conviction, Mr. Griffin, a bombastic man who briefly considered riding a horse to his sentencing on the courthouse in Washington, continued to publicly disparage the case and insult the judge who heard it.
He took to Twitter, court papers said, and complained that Judge McFadden had issued a “PRE written” guilty verdict, decrying it as “pathetic” and adding, “I’m wondering who wrote it?”
After he was sentenced, Mr. Griffin urged reporters to look at a series of debunked conspiracy theories about Jan. 6, including one about an Arizona man who was falsely pegged as an undercover F.B.I. agent who had instigated the mob that day. Around that point, Mr. Griffin also took part in an attempt by the Otero County commission to reject certification of a recent local election until voting machines within the county were inspected.