A New Mexico court has given a lot of members of Congress something to worry about. For the first time since shortly after the Civil War a court has declared an elected official is disqualified from office, and must be removed from office, for having participated in an insurrection against the United States. You can read the decision HERE.
Couy Griffin’s Role
His name is Couy Griffin, a County Commissioner for Otero County New Mexico. Mr. Griffin, as the creator of “Cowboys For Trump,” was a leading organizer and cheerleader for the Stop The Steal Movement. Leading up to January 6th Griffin gave many speeches encouraging people to go, using militaristic terms like “war” and “battle” and suggesting violence would be a part of January 6th saying, “there might be some of us that might lose our lives.”
On January 6th he did not enter the Capitol itself and was not charged with personally committing any violence. He entered restricted Capitol grounds, for which he was convicted. He used a bullhorn to encourage attacking the Capitol, and joined in chants to “push, push” the police back as other protesters were pushing.
Afterwards, he defended the attack describing it as necessary. As County Commissioner he refused to certify the election for Trump. He admitted he had no evidence saying, “It’s not based on any facts. It’s only based on my gut feeling and my own intuition, and that’s all I need.”
The Definition of Insurrection. Why J6 Was An Insurrection. Engaging In An Insurrection Does Not Require Violence. Planning And Supportive Words Can Qualify As Engaging In An Insurrection
Upon these facts, the court found that Griffin engaged in an insurrection. The court found that by the original intent of the writers of the 14th Amendment an insurrection has the following elements:
- an assemblage of persons
- acting to prevent the execution of federal laws
- for a public purpose
- through the use of violence, force or intimidation by numbers.
Citing the Whiskey Insurrection and Fries Insurrection the court noted that “an insurrection need not rise to the level of trying to overthrow the government.”
Notably, the court found that engaging in an insurrection includes “the surrounding planning, mobilization and incitement,” of the insurrection. Keep in mind that actual violence is not required, so long as there is “intimidation by numbers” in a manner calculated to prevent the execution of federal laws (in this case the 12th Amendment and laws providing for the certification of the electoral college result).
That court notes that: “bipartisan majorities of both Chambers of Congress, more than a dozen Federal courts, President Biden, and the Department of Justice under former President Trump,” all characterized the events of January 6th as an insurrection. The court pointed out that even Trump’s own impeachment defense lawyers admitted that everyone agrees there was a violent insurrection on January 6th.
Having concluded what happened was an insurrection the court turned to what must be shown to prove a person “engaged” in the insurrection. The court found that virtually any assistance where one is “leagued” with the insurrectionist cause makes one an insurrectionist.
The next paragraph states: “One need not personally commit acts of violence to engage in an insurrection…Engagement…can include non-violent overt acts or words in furtherance of the insurrection” as “there are lots of roles in an insurrection, some of which do not involve violence.”
Applying these principles the court found that Griffin engaged in the insurrection. More specifically, the court found Griffin engaged in the insurrection by:
“helping to mobilize and incite thousands across the country to join the mob in Washington D.C. on January 6 to intimidate and threaten Vice President Pence and Congress so they would not certify the election . . . Griffin was a featured speaker on a multi-city bus tour organized by a leading Stop the Steal rally organizer during which Mr. Griffin urged crowds to join the ‘war’ and ‘battle’ in ‘the streets’ of Washington on January 6 to stop the certification of the election and the peaceful transfer of power . . . The mob’s size was their ‘greatest weapon’ and what enabled them to achieve the level of success they did on January 6 . . . The pre-mobilization and incitement efforts by Mr. Griffin and others helped make the insurrection possible.”
Potential Future Uses of This Decision
The language will likely be cited in cases potentially challenging the election eligibility of others whose language helped to mobilize and incite the mob. Paul Gosar, Mo Brooks, and Andy Gibbs come to mind. Not to mention Donald Trump with his various tweets, starting with his summoning the mob to D.C. to be “wild.”
His tweet in the midst of the violence firing up the mob to go after Mike Pence.
His tweet that evening praising the insurrectionists as “great patriots” and suggesting that Congress got what it deserved.
It should be noted that a similar effort to disqualify Marjorie Taylor Greene failed. However, her case presented a very different challenge. Her judge found any acts in support of the insurrection had to be after she took her oath of office. That was on January 4th so there was only a very narrow window where she could have been found to have done things to cause the January 6 insurrection. The few things she said in that narrow time didn’t rise to her participating in the insurrection.
As for Mr. Griffin, the court ordered that he be removed as County Commissioner “effective immediately.”