A New Mexico judge Tuesday declared that the Jan. 6 riot in the Capitol was a “riot” because he ruled that Otero County Commissioner and founder of Cowboys for Trump Couy Griffin be removed from office must be because he took part in the attack.
Griffin is barred from holding federal or state office for life — including his current role as district commissioner, from which he will be ousted “effective immediately,” Judge Francis Matthew ruled.
Griffin was “constitutionally disqualified” from those positions as of Jan. 6, 2021, the judge concluded.
That day, a violent mob of supporters of former President Donald Trump stormed the US Capitol, forcing lawmakers to leave their chambers and disrupting the transfer of power to President Joe Biden. Griffin was convicted in March of a misdemeanor for violating the restricted Capitol grounds.
The riot and the planning and incitement that led to it “constituted a ‘rebellion'” under the 14th Amendment, Matthew wrote in the New Mexico 1st Circuit Court decision.
The ruling was the first time a court had found that the Capitol riot met the definition of a riot, according to the government nonprofit watchdog group CREW, which represented the plaintiffs who filed the suit to disqualify Griffin.
“This decision makes clear that all current or former officials who took an oath to defend the US Constitution and then participated in the riot of 6.
Griffin told CNN later Tuesday that he had been ordered to clean up his desk.
“I’m shocked, just shocked,” Griffin told CNN. “I really didn’t feel like the state was going to attack me like that. I don’t know where to go from here.”
According to CREW, Matthew’s ruling is also the first time since 1869 that a court has disqualified an officer under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment.
This section, known as the disqualification clause, prohibits any person from holding any civil or military office at the federal or state level of the United States if they are “participating in an insurrection or rebellion against the same, or offering aid or consolation to the enemies thereof.” have done.”
Griffin did not enter the Capitol itself or commit any violence during the January 6 riots, but he did participate and his actions “supported the riot,” Matthew judged.
“By joining the mob and trespassing on unauthorized Capitol property, Mr. Griffin helped delay the Congressional election certification process,” the judge wrote. Griffin’s presence “helped to overwhelm law enforcement” and he “instigated, encouraged and helped normalize violence” during the riot, Matthew ruled.
In addition, the judge dismissed as “unfounded” the arguments put forward by Griffin, who represented himself in the case.
Griffin’s attempts to “clean up his actions are without merit and are at odds with the evidence presented by the plaintiffs, given that he himself has not presented any evidence in his own defense,” Matthew wrote.
His arguments in court were “not credible and amounted to nothing more than trying to put lipstick on a pig,” added the judge.
Griffin was arrested less than two weeks after the Capitol riot. He was found guilty in March and on June 17 was sentenced to a two-week prison term along with a $3,000 fine and community service.
Griffin, a Republican and vocal Trump supporter, has repeated the former president’s false claims that the 2020 election results were marred by widespread fraud.
He and the other two GOP members who make up the Otero County Commission have refused to confirm recent primary election results, reportedly citing conspiracy theories about Dominion voting machines. The commission ultimately voted 2 to 1 to confirm the primary findings, with Griffin voting no.
In 2019, Griffin founded Cowboys for Trump, a group that hosted pro-Trump horseback riding parades.
Bookbinder called Tuesday’s ruling “a historic victory for accountability for the January 6 insurgency and efforts to disrupt the peaceful transfer of power in the United States.”
“Protecting American democracy means ensuring those who violate their oath to the Constitution are held accountable,” he said.