Supreme Court Upholds Ban on Former New Mexico Commissioner for Jan. 6 Involvement


In a landmark decision, the Supreme Court has upheld the ban on former New Mexico county commissioner Couy Griffin over his participation in the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Griffin, renowned as a cowboy pastor and ardent supporter of former President Donald Trump, becomes the sole elected official to face disqualification in connection with the Capitol attack.

The ruling stems from a 2022 trial where Griffin received the first disqualification from office in over a century under the 14th Amendment, initially drafted to exclude former Confederates from government roles post-Civil War. Despite Griffin’s federal conviction for entering a restricted area on Jan. 6, which is currently under appeal, he maintains his innocence, asserting he entered without recognizing the area’s designation and led a prayer without engaging in violence.

Judge Francis Mathew, during Griffin’s trial, deemed his actions as aiding the insurrection, citing his dissemination of false information about the 2020 election and incitement of the mob on Jan. 6, despite his avoidance of direct violence. The New Mexico Supreme Court declined to hear Griffin’s case following his failure to meet procedural deadlines.

The Supreme Court’s decision affirms states’ authority to disqualify individuals from state office, distinguishing it from its ruling allowing Trump and others to remain on federal ballots. This outcome could set a precedent for holding state and local officials accountable for their involvement in the Jan. 6 attack, bolstering efforts to ensure political accountability at all levels.

Griffin’s journey from rodeo performer to political figure began in 2019 when he founded Cowboys for Trump, a promotional group advocating for Trump’s conservative agenda on issues such as gun rights, immigration controls, and abortion restrictions. Despite his disqualification from office, Griffin’s influence persisted as he stood trial and was acquitted in March 2023 of allegations related to Cowboys for Trump, demonstrating continued support from his community.

Reflecting on the third anniversary of the Capitol attack, Griffin portrayed himself as a victim of political persecution, highlighting the significance of Jan. 6 as a day of unparalleled patriotism. His resilience and unwavering commitment to his beliefs have cemented his status as a polarizing figure, revered by some and condemned by others.

Griffin’s case underscores the complexities surrounding accountability and free speech in the aftermath of the Capitol attack. While his ban from office serves as a cautionary tale for elected officials, it also raises questions about the boundaries of political expression and the consequences of incendiary rhetoric in today’s charged political climate.

As the nation grapples with the aftermath of Jan. 6, Griffin’s story serves as a reminder of the enduring impact of that fateful day and the ongoing efforts to reckon with its legacy in American politics.