SCOTUS Reaffirms Decision Barring Insurrectionist from Holding Elected Office in NM 

By Annie Rudolph and Ella Rindt

OTERO COUNTY, NM – The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled a forever ban on insurrectionist and former county commissioner Couy Griffin from ever holding elected office in New Mexico, according to Source New Mexico.

The article notes Griffin is the co-founder of the “Cowboys for Trump” organization, explaining the Supreme Court upheld the decision from New Mexico courts, which barred Griffin “from being an elected official under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment because Griffin had violated his oath to support the U.S. Constitution.” 

Source New Mexico wrote the state district court judge referred to Griffin’s participation in the Jan. 6 attack as an “insurrection against the Constitution.” 

According to Source New Mexico, Griffin petitioned his case to the U.S. Supreme Court in May 2023 after the New Mexico Supreme Court denied his appeal. 

Source New Mexico writes, “A state district court judge cited Griffin’s participation in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, along with ‘surrounding planning, mobilization and incitement.’”

Source New Mexico points out the federal justices did not give specific reasoning for denying Griffin’s petition but noted, “They did signal their position on Griffin’s case when they unanimously ruled on March 4 in a separate but related case involving former President Donald Trump.” 

As described by Source New Mexico, the justices “quoted from previous cases saying state governments retain the power to set out their own qualifications for elected officials.” 

The Supreme Court’s opinion stated, “Although the Fourteenth Amendment restricts state power, nothing in it plainly withdraws from the States this traditional authority… We conclude that States may disqualify persons holding or attempting to hold state office.”

Source NM includes Griffin’s disappointed response to the Supreme Court’s decision, and in a social media post, wrote, “I don’t even know what to say.” 

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW)  President Noah Bookbinder declared that it is up to states “to fulfill their duty under Section 3 to remove from office anyone who broke their oath by participating in the January 6th insurrection.” 

According to Source New Mexico, CREW originally brought these disqualification cases against Griffin and Trump and argued “the justices should not hear Griffin’s case because he didn’t follow the rules when he appealed the state judge’s decision, and didn’t fix his appeal when the New Mexico Supreme Court gave him the chance.” 

Bookbinder emphasized this decision reinforces the insurrection’s significance and states’ abilities to enforce disqualification clauses. Bookbinder expands on this point “By refusing to take up this appeal, the Supreme Court keeps in place the finding that January 6th was an insurrection, and ensures that states can still apply the 14th Amendment’s disqualification clause to state officials,” said Source New Mexico

“Crucially, this decision reinforces that every decision-making body that has substantively considered the issue has found that January 6th was an insurrection, and Donald Trump engaged in that insurrection,” Bookbinder said. 

Source NM writes Griffin published three consecutive social media posts, conveying that he is now only eligible to be U.S. President or Vice President, asking Trump to pick him as his running mate, and urging the former President “to attack the person who replaced him on the Otero County Commission.” 

Further, according to Source New Mexico, the spurned candidate had “[p]inned to the top of his X profile on Monday was a March 15 plea for donations to cover his legal expenses, which had raised nearly $20,000.” 

This decision from the Supreme Court “extinguished Couy Griffin’s last hope of ever holding elected office again in New Mexico,” writes Source NM.

About The Author

The Vanguard Court Watch operates in Yolo, Sacramento and Sacramento Counties with a mission to monitor and report on court cases. Anyone interested in interning at the Courthouse or volunteering to monitor cases should contact the Vanguard at info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org - please email info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org if you find inaccuracies in this report.

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