SCOTUS: Yes, 'Cowboy Pastor' Can Be Banned From Office

Justices reject appeal of Couy Griffin over losing county commissioner seat over Jan. 6 insurrection
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 18, 2024 12:07 PM CDT
SCOTUS Rejects Jan. 6 Appeal of 'Cowboy Pastor'
Couy Griffin, a former Otero County commissioner and cofounder of Cowboys for Trump, speaks during a gun rights rally in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Sept. 12, 2023. The Supreme Court has rejected an appeal by Griffin, who is banished from public office for participating in the Jan. 6 insurrection.   (AP Photo/Susan Montoya Bryan, File)

The Supreme Court on Monday rejected an appeal from a former New Mexico county commissioner who was kicked out of office over his participation in the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the US Capitol. Former Otero County commissioner Couy Griffin, a cowboy pastor who rode to national fame by embracing then-President Trump with a series of horseback caravans, is the only elected official thus far to be banned from office in the Capitol attack. At a 2022 trial in state district court, Griffin received the first disqualification from office in over a century under a provision of the 14th Amendment written to prevent former Confederates from serving in government.

Though the Supreme Court ruled this month that states don't have the ability to bar Trump or other candidates for federal offices from the ballot, the justices said different rules apply to state and local candidates, reports the AP. "We conclude that States may disqualify persons holding or attempting to hold state office," the justices wrote in an unsigned opinion. The outcome of Griffin's case could bolster efforts to hold other state and local officials accountable for the Jan. 6 attack. Griffin, a Republican, was convicted in federal court of entering a restricted area on the Capitol grounds on Jan. 6 and received a 14-day prison sentence.

Griffin contends that he entered the Capitol grounds on Jan. 6 without recognizing that it had been designated a restricted area and that he attempted to lead a crowd in prayer using a bullhorn, without engaging in violence. The accusations of insurrection against Griffin were filed on behalf of three New Mexico residents by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics, which has outlined the case for investigating several current state legislators who went to Washington on Jan. 6. (More Capitol riot stories.)

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