SANTA FE, N.M., — Otero County, New Mexico Commissioner Couy Griffin must be removed from office and disqualified from holding future public office under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution based on his participation in the January 6, 2021 insurrection, according to a lawsuit filed today by a group of New Mexico residents. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington and the New Mexico-based law firms of Freedman, Boyd, Hollander and Goldberg, P.A, Dodd Law Office, LLC and the Law Office of Amber Fayerberg, LLC serve as co-counsel on the case, which also seeks a court order declaring the January 6th attack on the Capitol and the events surrounding it an insurrection under the 14th Amendment.
Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, also known as the Disqualification Clause, bars any person from holding federal or state office who took an “oath…to support the Constitution of the United States” as an “officer of any State” and then “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” or gave “aid or comfort” to insurrectionists. Griffin has served as an Otero County Commissioner since January 2019. Upon taking office, he swore an oath to “support and uphold the Constitution and laws of the State of New Mexico, and the Constitution of the United States.”
Griffin traveled across the country to Washington, D.C. to participate in the January 6th “Stop the Steal” demonstrations, then marched to the Capitol following former President Trump’s speech on the National Mall. While there, he illegally breached the Capitol’s security barriers, and occupied restricted grounds. He remained there even after the mob became violent and overwhelmed law enforcement officials trying to protect members of Congress during the election certification process.
“Under the Constitution, those office holders who, like Griffin, violated their oath by participating in or aiding an insurrection, must be barred from public office.”
“Couy Griffin breached the Capitol grounds on January 6th as part of an organized effort to halt the certification of a free and fair election. Under the Constitution, those office holders who, like Griffin, violated their oath by participating in or aiding an insurrection, must be barred from public office,” said CREW President Noah Bookbinder. “Couy Griffin has used his public platform to spread the false narrative that the election was stolen from Donald Trump and to defend the attack on our Capitol. His actions on January 6th were part of and contributed to an insurrection, and his tenure in government continues to be a threat to our democracy. It’s time for Couy Griffin to be removed from office.”
In addition to breaching security barriers at the Capitol that day, Griffin took on a leadership position within the mob at the Capitol on January 6th and continuously promoted the events on his social media pages. Videos show Griffin speaking through a bullhorn to the mob and spreading the false narrative that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from former President Trump. Griffin continued after January 6th to defend the attack and suggest a possible repeat of it in the future. He is now facing federal criminal charges for breaching and occupying restricted Capitol grounds and engaging in “disruptive conduct” to “impede or disrupt” Congress’s certification of the 2020 presidential election.
“Couy Griffin, as an elected official, took an oath to uphold the Constitution. We expect to show that his participation in and encouragement of the January 6 insurrection was an attack on our nation and the Constitution. He violated his oath to the Constitution and under the law has forfeited the privilege of serving as an elected official in our county,” said Dodd Law Office, LLC President Christopher Dodd. “That is what this lawsuit is all about. It is intolerable for an elected official to attempt to overthrow our system of government, and Couy Griffin must be removed from office and barred from ever holding office again. We must protect our democracy.”
Under New Mexico law, any private citizen of the state is allowed to file a lawsuit to remove a disqualified county official from office.
“Couy Griffin betrayed his oath of office and his country when he actively participated in what was an unprecedented attack on our democracy,” said Law Office of Amber Fayerberg, LLC Founder Amber Fayerberg. “If we intend for our democracy to survive for another 200 years, and beyond, we must hold such conduct to account. This lawsuit seeks to do just that.”