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Consequences for County Commissioner

A New Mexico state district court judge has gained national attention with his removal of Couy Griffin, a county commissioner. Griffin’s removal marks the first person in office to lose their position for association with the January 6th riots.

The removal took place on Tuesday, Sept. 6th, when New Mexico State District Court Judge Francis Mathew cited Section 3 of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution for Griffin’s removal. 

According to a recent Time article, Judge Mathew stated “‘Mr. Griffin aided the insurrection, even though he did not personally engage in violence. By joining the mob and trespassing on restricted Capitol grounds, Mr. Griffin contributed to delaying Congress’s election-certification proceedings.’” 

Judge Mathew’s decision signifies the first time a judge has classified the January 6th riots as an insurrection and officially ruling prosecution using the 14th Amendment’s insurrection clause, which was adopted shortly after the Civil War. Additionally, according to a Reuters article, the ruling marks “…the first time since 1869 that a judge has removed a public official under Section 3.”

While many argue whether or not the January 6th riots should be compared to a full-scale war between the states, the main focus is on what Judge Mathew’s ruling could mean for the possible involvement of the Supreme Court if the case is to appeal. There is trending speculation about whether or not the Court will have to address if the riots on Jan. 6th were officially an insurrection and if the Constitution will be wholly applicable to punish any public officials that were involved.

There is also fear surrounding the possible implications which could arise from Griffin’s removal. Fear that some currently in power could label innocent people “insurrectionists” and have them persecuted, even if there was no involvement in Jan. 6th, simply for political gain.

Couy Griffins expressed how  his removal and Judge Mathew’s ruling felt shameful, especially since a similar attempt to remove him from office already  fell through, 

“I say, not only because he fails to have jurisdiction to do so, but also because there was a recall waged against me after Jan. 6th that failed miserably,” according to Fox News

Additionally, some question the validity of the barring and removal from political office, since Griffins has already been convicted for stepping foot on restricted Capitol grounds. 

The former Otero County commissioner was sentenced to 14 days in jail back in March, but received credit for his time served while awaiting sentencing. Judge Mathew, however, believed simply crossing onto restricted federal property warranted more than what Griffins was sentenced to.

Noah Bookbinder, the president of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, has been one of the leading voices against Mr. Griffins and in full support of State District Judge Mathew’s ruling.

“This decision makes clear that any current or former public officials who took an oath to defend the U.S. Constitution and then participated in the Jan. 6th insurrection can and will be removed and barred from government service for their actions,” said Noah Bookbinder, according to Axios.

Let us hope those in power uphold the law, but at the same time do not take this event and apply it in any case they deem their personal definition of insurrection fits. If that starts to happen, the U.S. will have a much bigger problem than January 6th.

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