Supreme Court lets stand a ban against Cowboys for Trump co-founder using 14th Amendment

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WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court on Monday let stand a New Mexico judge’s ruling barring a Donald Trump supporter − a former rodeo rider who started Cowboys for Trump − from local public office because of an anti-insurrectionist provision of the Constitution.

The decision came two weeks after the court said Colorado could not use that same provision to remove Trump from the presidential ballot because he's a federal candidate.

Couy Griffin, a founder of Cowboys for Trump, is the only person who participated in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol to be removed from office using the 14th Amendment.

The challenge to Griffin had been a test run for Trump opponents who successfully argued to the Colorado Supreme Court last year that Trump is disqualified from the presidency by that same Civil War-era provision.

But Trump appealed the Colorado court’s ruling and the Supreme Court sided with him. Both liberal and conservative justices voiced concern about allowing one state to decide the eligibility of a presidential candidate, but they disagreed about how exactly the amendment could be used to disqualify a federal candidate.

In Griffin’s case, the New Mexico Supreme Court rejected his appeal because he missed filing deadlines after the district court judge ruled against him.

Griffin’s challengers said that made him ineligible to seek review from the nation’s high court.

Griffin’s attorney said the state-level appeal was dismissed on a “procedural technicality” that shouldn’t prevent the U.S. Supreme Court from weighing in on such an important question of federal law.

Griffin, a former rodeo rider, was serving on the Otero County Commission when he participated in the Jan. 6, 2021, attempt by Trump’s supporters to disrupt Congress’ certification of President Joe Biden’s 2020 victory. Griffin was convicted of a misdemeanor charge of illegally entering restricted areas of the U.S. Capitol grounds.

At his sentencing, District Judge Trevor McFadden said Griffin’s actions were in “grave tension” with the oath he took as 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 said.

Griffin, who was given a 14-day jail sentence, told the Supreme Court the events on Jan. 6 were not an insurrection and barring him from holding office is a violation of his First Amendment rights.

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

Noah Bookbinder, the group's president, said the court's rejection of Griffin's appeal ensures that states can still apply the 14th Amendment’s disqualification clause to state officials.

"Now it is up to the states to fulfill their duty under Section 3 to remove from office anyone who broke their oath by participating in the January 6th insurrection," Bookbinder said.

More: Peter Navarro, ex-Trump aide, asks Supreme Court to keep him out of prison in Jan. 6 contempt case

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Supreme Court lets stand a ban against Cowboys for Trump co-founder