By Chris Fry
On September 6th, a New Mexico state judge removed Otero County Commissioner Couy Griffin from his elected post. District Court Judge Francis J. Mathew ruled that the January 6th, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol was indeed an “insurrection.” He decided that Griffin, founder and leader of the fascist group “Cowboys for Trump”, and already convicted in June for “trespassing” when he breached the police lines and entered the Capitol, had “engaged” in that insurrection. Griffin, who had previously sworn an oath to uphold the Constitution, is now disqualified from holding any public office.
According to a Sept. 6th CNN report, Griffin was told to immediately “clean out his office.”
The New York Times, in a September 6th article titled: “Judge Unseats Official Who Trespassed at Capitol on Jan. 6”, stated:
“This just went from being theoretical to being something that is legally recognized and legally possible,” said Noah Bookbinder, director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a nonpartisan watchdog organization that filed suit against Mr. Griffin on behalf of a group of New Mexico residents. “That’s hugely significant. It could have real implications for protecting the country from people associated with the effort to overturn the last election.”
Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, adopted during Reconstruction to punish members of the Confederacy for taking up arms against their country in the Civil War, declares that “no person shall” hold “any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any state, who, having previously taken an oath” to “support the Constitution,” had then “engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof.”
Reconstruction-era federal prosecutors brought civil actions in court to oust officials linked to the Confederacy, and Congress in some cases refused to seat members, according to the Congressional Research Service.
Even after his criminal conviction, Mr. Griffin, a bombastic man who briefly considered riding a horse to his sentencing at the courthouse in Washington, continued to publicly disparage the case and insult the judge who heard it.
One month after the Capitol attack, Fighting Words published an article titled “14th Amendment: a tool Congress should use to oust neo-Klan Reps and Senators”, arguing that this Reconstruction-era amendment’s Section 3 should be used to oust all of the politicians who, in concert with the neo-Klan and Nazi rioters, tried to overturn the results of the 2020 election.
An Al Jazeera article on February 16, 2021 reported that:
A federal lawsuit filed on Tuesday morning on behalf of Representative Bennie Thompson against former President Donald J Trump and his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani alleges they violated the 1871 Ku Klux Klan Act for inciting the January 6 riot at the United States Capitol.
The act, formally known as “An Act to enforce the Provisions of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, and for other Purposes”, passed as the racist KKK was waging a campaign of voter suppression and murder against newly-freed Black citizens of the US.
Thompson, an African-American representative from Mississippi, is chair of the important Homeland Security Committee and is now also chair of the January 6th subcommittee investigating the insurrection. Yet neither Biden nor the Democratic Party has lifted a finger to support Representative Thompson’s suit or any other effort to use this law to disqualify Trumpist officials who participated in this conspiracy to overturn the vote by force, and since the attack have stepped up their nationwide campaign to deprive the oppressed communities their right to vote.
Instead, Biden and the Democratic leadership seek “bipartisanship” with a phantom set of “reasonable” Republican officials who don’t actually exist.
The Democratic leadership chooses not to challenge the powerful billionaire backers of Trump, who support his brutal racist and sexist policies that are designed to protect their wealth and power in the face of a rising tide of union organizing drives and strikes, combined with increasing resistance to police and vigilante murders in the oppressed communities, especially as the ruling class is now bent on turning the economy into a devastating recession.
The New Mexico legal success in ousting this fascist from office sets an important precedent and can be used to reinforce our class’s struggle to defend all our hard-won gains as well as defeat this fascist offensive. But to do that we must establish an entirely new leadership, based on pursuing the path of struggle, both legally and militantly in the streets.