SCOTUS Refuses to Hear “Insurrection” Case

( – A New Mexico county commissioner lost his job in September 2022, after a district court barred him from holding state office. The judge deemed that he had participated in the insurrection on January 6, 2021, and therefore the official was no longer qualified to perform his duties. The case made it to the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS), but the justices have refused to hear the case.

Actions at the Capitol Building

Officials removed Otero County, New Mexico Commissioner Couy Griffin from his position after evidence came to light that he had been an active participant in the January 6 riot. The affidavit filed against him states that he posted videos to Facebook, which depicted him climbing up the Capitol building and having “a first row seat” of the demonstrations. He posted, along with additional video footage, that another rally would likely end with “blood running out of that building. He added that the group wouldn’t end the day until they had “[their] flag” on Nancy Pelosi’s and Chuck Schumer’s desks.

Griffin, the founder of “Cowboys for Trump,” traveled to the Capitol with the group’s media organizer, Matt Struck, to join in the protests against the transfer of presidential power to Joe Biden. The two reportedly remained outside the building at all times, although they did join the mob as it breached the barriers that surrounded it. The defendant alleges that he got “caught up” in the rushing group, which he claimed to have expected to remain peaceful. The affidavit also states that Griffin planned to return to the Capitol building on January 20 to protest Biden’s inauguration.

The document references video footage from the event, where Griffin indicates he believes former President Donald Trump’s allegations that Democrats stole the election from him. Standing on the Capitol’s front steps, the ousted commissioner called January 6 “a great day” for the country, with the riot being evidence, in his mind, that Americans had “had enough.”

State v. Federal Laws

Griffin filed to have his case heard by the SCOTUS on May 17, 2023. The petition questions the legal action against the defendant, alleging the court violated his constitutional rights. The former New Mexico leader claimed his case should be determined on a federal level. He added that the trial court “incorrectly” found that the January 6 events qualified as “insurrection” as per Section Three of the 14th Amendment. He also claimed the trial court’s decision to disqualify him from office was a violation of his First Amendment rights.

The SCOTUS denied the petition on March 18, 2024. NBC News explains that the ruling was likely a reflection of the fact that Griffin’s case affected his ability to run for state office, so therefore a federal court had no right to overrule the state’s decision.

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