After New Mexico county commissioner and January 6 insurrectionist Couy Griffin was officially barred for life from holding public office, right-wing media responded by defending the Cowboys for Trump founder – downplaying his actions at the Capitol riot, claiming that it was not really an insurrection, and suggesting that his removal violates the will of the people who elected him.
On September 6, a New Mexico district court judge ruled that Griffin’s participation in the January 6 insurrection disqualifies him from holding public office under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, also known as the Disqualification Clause. This marks the first case where the provision has been used since 1869, as it was enacted as a measure against former Confederates in Congress after the Civil War.
The case was brought by New Mexico citizens represented by the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), an anti-corruption legal group, which noted that “an eyewitness to Griffin’s behavior testified that Griffin also took on a leadership position within the mob at the Capitol on January 6th. For his involvement in the Capitol riot, Griffin was ultimately convicted of misdemeanor trespassing, for which he spent 14 days in jail. Griffin also withstood a recall effort in 2021 over his participation in the riot, and he recently refused to certify Otero County’s 2022 primary election results based on debunked conspiracy theories about Dominion voting machines.
In a statement to Vice News following the ruling disqualifying him from holding public office, Griffin defended himself and his election denial: “For them to say that I was there on that day to stop the transition of power, it’s all slanderous. It’s all built on lies. I was concerned election laws had been broken.” Griffin said that “I’m disappointed in the tyranny of one judge can remove the will of the people,” which “makes [me] mistrust the government even more.”
Right-wing writers alleged that the ruling puts democracy in danger and defended January 6 overall
On September 7, Griffin appeared on Newsmax’s Greg Kelly Reports to discuss his removal, which he argued spells the end of democracy: “That will mean that the radical progressive Democrat that is governor of New Mexico will now hand-select who to replace me and who to represent the people. So we always hear all this [about] our democracy is under attack? Absolutely. The case in point, right here today.”
Host Greg Kelly told Griffin, “You are not an insurrectionist. Going there exercising your First Amendment right and you didn’t break anything, you didn’t hurt anybody, you didn’t threaten anybody. That’s not an insurrection.”
Griffin defended himself to Fox News Digital as well, claiming that he had “‘no intention’ of ‘insurrection nor rebellion’ when he went to the Capitol.” He called his removal a “disgrace,” as he claims the judge “fails to have jurisdiction to do so but also because there was a recall waged against me after Jan 6 that failed miserably.”
Conservative outlets lit up with similar editorializing.
- Conservative news site RedState called CREW “leftwing nutters” and argued, “A state judge can’t declare a national insurrection existed nearly two years ago when the federal government itself never made such a declaration.”
- The Gateway Pundit wrote that “Griffin did not commit any violent acts on January 6, however the judge ruled that the January 6 Capitol protest was an insurrection.”
- Breitbart called CREW a “Soros-backed group” in their coverage of the story, and made sure to include that “Griffin, like many participants in the Capitol riot, apparently believed he was defending the Constitution, not rebelling against it.”
- The Wall Street Journal questioned the ruling for treating January 6 insurrectionists like “Confederates after the Civil War,” and said, “The breadth of this precedent is troubling.”
- The Daily Caller defended Griffin with the headline “Walking Around Outside The Capitol Is Now Officially ‘Insurrection,’ Says Judge.”
- Right-wing YouTuber Tim Pool hosted Florida Republican congressional nominee Cory Mills, who denied that January 6 was an insurrection and claimed that Griffin’s removal proves “what President Trump told us a long time ago, which is that they're not after me. They're after you. I'm just in the way.”
- On Twitter, American Greatness writer and January 6 conspiracy theorist Julie Kelly claimed that the judge “lied throughout his 49-page (!) ruling” and that she hopes Griffin “defies the order” to leave office.
- Right-wing radio host and Daily Caller editor Vince Coglianese criticized the ruling, saying, “Walking around outside the Capitol building with a bullhorn or unilaterally overturning the will of the voters — which one is more insurrectiony?”