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 March 18, 2024

Supreme Court declines case banning Cowboys for Trump leader from running for office using 14th Amendment

The Supreme Court declined on Monday to review a New Mexico judge's ruling that barred a former rodeo rider and Donald Trump supporter, who founded Cowboys for Trump, from holding local public office due to an anti-insurrectionist provision of the Constitution.

This decision came two weeks after the Court's ruling that Colorado could not utilize the same provision to exclude Trump from the presidential ballot because he is a federal candidate.

The case

Couy Griffin, the founder of Cowboys for Trump, became the sole individual involved in the January 6, 2021, Capitol attack to be ousted from office under the 14th Amendment.

Griffin's case served as a precursor for Trump opponents who successfully contended before the Colorado Supreme Court last year that Trump is ineligible for the presidency under the same Civil War-era provision.

"We conclude that states may disqualify persons holding or attempting to hold state office. But states have no power under the Constitution to enforce Section 3 with respect to federal offices, especially the presidency," the court said.

Trump appealed the Colorado court's decision, and the Supreme Court sided with him. Justices, both liberal and conservative, expressed reservations about permitting a single state to determine the eligibility of a presidential candidate, yet they disagreed on the precise application of the amendment to disqualify a federal candidate.

Griffin's situation

In Griffin's instance, the New Mexico Supreme Court dismissed his appeal because he missed filing deadlines subsequent to the district court's ruling against him. Griffin's adversaries argued that this rendered him ineligible for review by the nation's highest court.

Griffin's attorney contended that the dismissal of the state-level appeal was based on a "procedural technicality" that should not preclude the U.S. Supreme Court from addressing such a significant question of federal law.

During his sentencing, District Judge Trevor McFadden remarked that Griffin's actions were in "grave tension" with the oath he had taken as an elected official to uphold the Constitution.

"We need our elected officials to support this country and the peaceful transfer of power, not undermine it," McFadden emphasized.

Griffin persists

Griffin, who received a 14-day jail term, argued before the Supreme Court that the events on January 6 were not an insurrection and that barring him from holding office constituted a violation of his First Amendment rights.

The challenge against Griffin was brought by three New Mexico residents with assistance from Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, the watchdog group behind the case against Trump in Colorado.

The case leaves a concerning precedent for others seeking to run for office who were involved in the events of January 6 as Trump seeking a return to the White House in November.

Written By:
Dillon Burroughs

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