Supreme Court opens new frontier for insurrection claims – State of the Union

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The Supreme Court’s recent rulings on Section 3 of the 14th Amendment have opened the door for state and local officials to potentially be disqualified from future office for engaging in insurrection related to January 6th.

The Court rejected an appeal from a New Mexico county commissioner removed for his role in the Capitol attack.

“This is a bit of returning to the course we expected to be following, which was holding individuals accountable, who are low-level officials, who still broke their oath by coming to D.C., engaging in insurrection,” said attorney Stuart McPhail.

Meanwhile, the Court said Section 3 cannot be used against federal officials until Congress acts, but can still be applied to state and local roles.

“Section 3 continues to be a viable way of protecting against insurrectionists in state and local government,” Free Speech For People legal director Ron Fein said.

“It does create this incentive to bring cases from low-level officials now because then you can actually win them and get some kind of relief in judgments, whereas if you wait, you may have lost the opportunity,” McPhail said.

Liberal groups plan to target lower-level officials involved in January 6th using Section 3, which bars those who engaged in insurrection or rebellion from office.

“All you have to do is go to a really friendly county, with a good friendly judge that’s politically on your side, and then you get rid of your opposition,” said attorney Peter Ticktin.

“I don’t know how widespread it’s going to be,” Notre Dame law professor Derek Muller said. “I’m sure people are going to start thinking creatively about what it means — if you’re supporting, Hamas, the Taliban, (Black Lives Matter).”

“In most of these cases, I think it won’t pass the initial motion to dismiss.”

“Knowledgeable 19th century Americans including Section 3’s framers would have regarded the events of Jan. 6, and the surrounding planning, mobilization and incitement, as an insurrection,” New Mexico Judge Francis Mathew ruled. “Mr. Griffin also incited, encouraged, and helped normalize the violence on January 6.”

“Neither the courts nor Congress have ever required a criminal conviction for a person to be disqualified under Section 3,” Judge Mathew wrote.

“There is no one-size-fits-all solution for enforcing Section 3 in states,” McPhail said.

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