On Tuesday, it was announced that state District Court Judge Francis Mathew had made a ruling barring Otero County District Two Commissioner Couy Griffin from holding public office.
Mathews wrote in his ruling that Griffin “became constitutionally disqualified from federal and state positions specified (under the U.S. Constitution’s 14th Amendment, Section 3) and forfeited his current office as Otero County Commissioner effective Jan. 6, 2021,” adding, “Griffin shall be removed from his position as an Otero County Commissioner effective immediately.”
The judge made many anti-Trump sentiments in the ruling, claiming President Trump on January 6th made “false claims that the election was ‘rigged’ and ‘stolen,’” while claiming that the incursion into the U.S. Capitol constituted an “insurrection” despite not a single person involved being convicted of “insurrection.”
Regardless, Mathews concludes, “The Court concludes that the January 6, 2021 attack on the United States Capitol and the surrounding planning, mobilization, and incitement constituted an ‘insurrection’ within the meaning of Section Three of the Fourteenth Amendment.”
He then compared the January 6th protesters to the Confederates, who lost the Civil War, writing, “The mob ultimately achieved what even the Confederates never did during the Civil War: they breached the Capitol building and seized the Capitol grounds, forcing the Vice President and Congress to halt their constitutional duties and flee to more secure locations.”
“The case law holds that a person ‘engage[s]’ in an insurrection within the meaning of Section Three by ‘[v]oluntarily aiding the [insurrection], by personal service, or by contributions, other than charitable, of anything that [is] useful or necessary’ to the insurrectionists’ cause. Worthy, 63 N.C. at 203; see also Powell, 27 F. Cas. at 607 (defining ‘engage’ as ‘a voluntary effort to assist the Insurrection … and to bring it to a successful termination’ from the insurrectionists’ perspective).”
“One need not personally commit acts of violence to ‘engag[e] in’ insurrection,” said Mathews.
According to the New York Times, Griffin’s removal is “the first official in more than 100 years to be removed under the Constitution’s bar on insurrectionists holding office.”
Griffin represented himself in the trial, and he does have the opportunity for an appeal.
Democrat Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham will likely have the opportunity to appoint Griffin’s replacement, which will go against the citizens of the District who elected Griffin — a conservative — to represent them as commissioner.
The lawsuit was filed by residents of Santa Fe and Los Alamos Counties, while none are from Otero County.