Judge uses January 6 conviction to remove pro-Trump county commissioner

Earlier this week, a pro-Trump elected official was removed from office over his involvement in the January 6 riot on Capitol Hill. 

Judge says commissioner “is constitutionally disqualified from serving”

As NPR reported on Tuesday, District Court Judge Francis Mathew declared that Couy Griffin is ineligible to continue serving as a commissioner in Otero County, New Mexico.

Mathew cited Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, under which individuals are barred from holding office if they “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” after having previously taken an oath to uphold the Constitution.

“Mr. Griffin is constitutionally disqualified from serving,” Mathew said in his ruling. “He took an oath to support the Constitution of the United States … [and then] engaged in that insurrection after taking his oath,” the judge added.

According to NPR, Griffin was found guilty of having unlawfully entered a restricted area on Capitol Hill during the January 6 unrest.

The former commissioner, who founded a pro-Trump organization called Cowboys for Trump, told NPR that his removal was a “purely political” move motivated by his support for the former president.

“I don’t think it’s fair to accuse me of insurrection,” Griffin was quoted as saying. “I didn’t have any intent of being a part of an insurrection or a violent mob.

“My intent of going to Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6 was because I had concerns that our elections had been compromised,” he added.

Suit to remove Griffin brought by left-wing advocacy group

Griffin’s removal stemmed from a lawsuit filed by the left-wing advocacy group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW).

CREW director Noah Bookbinder touted Mathew’s decision in a statement, calling it “hugely significant” and something which “could have real implications for protecting the country from people associated with the effort to overturn the last election.”

The website Timcast noted how the 14th Amendment’s insurrection clause has not been used to remove an office holder since 1869 and that this marks the first time a court has officially referred to the events of January 6 as an insurrection.

Griffin previously represented Otero County’s second district, the county website now lists his seat as being vacant.