Participants in the January 6 insurrection should not be permitted to serve in the government they attempted to overthrow, and attorneys general play a key role in ensuring that doesn’t happen. Last week’s election resulted in the rise of insurrection participants to government positions throughout the country, highlighting how pressing it is for attorneys general to protect our democracy by enforcing the law against insurrectionists.
In a letter sent today, CREW urged each state attorney general and attorney general-elect to follow a recent New Mexico ruling as guidance for barring insurrection participants from serving in office. The ruling held that the events of January 6 were an “insurrection” under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, also known as the Disqualification Clause, and disqualified Otero County Commissioner and January 6 participant Couy Griffin from public office for engaging in an insurrection. This was the first trial in more than 150 years using the Disqualification Clause and the first time a court ruled that January 6th was an insurrection under the law.
The court’s decision rightfully sets a high bar for disqualification, but CREW believes there are current and soon-to-be officeholders elected last week throughout the country who are disqualified from public office because they engaged in prohibited conduct, according to the ruling and the law. State attorneys general have a particularly important role to play since enforcing the Disqualification Clause is consistent with a state attorney general’s obligations as a law enforcement officer and their oath of office.
Where the evidence supports disqualification and removal, it is a state attorneys’ general constitutional duty to act.