States Propose to Bar Insurrectionists from Holding Office

January 23, 2023

Democratic lawmakers in a number of states have proposed legislation that would prohibit anyone convicted of participating in an insurrection from holding public office.

Legislation from states such as New York, Connecticut and Virginia comes roughly two years after the deadly January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol and the attempt to disrupt the certification of the 2020 Presidential elections’ electoral college count.

The different states’ laws vary in scope but their aims are similar. “If you’ve tried to take down our government through violent means, in no way should you be part of it,” New York state Sen. Brad Hoylman-Sigal (D) told the Associated Press (AP).

The bill he’s sponsoring would bar people who’ve engaged in an insurrection or rebellion from holding civil office, meaning they could not serve as a judge or member of the Legislature. 

A bill introduced in Virginia on January 6, 2023 would prohibit anyone convicted of a felony related to an attempted insurrection or riot from serving in positions of public trust. That would include any position involving policymaking, law enforcement, safety, education or health. 

A Connecticut bill would prohibit anyone convicted of sedition, rebellion, insurrection or a felony related to any of those acts from running for or holding public office. Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff (D) told the AP he’d ultimately like to bar them from holding any state or municipal jobs.

There have been some earlier attempts to prevent certain officials from either running for or holding office. In New Hampshire, for example, a bill failed to pass last year that would have barred anyone who participates in an insurrection or rebellion from holding office.

However, in September, a state court in New Mexico disqualified a rural county commissioner from holding public office for engaging in the January 6 insurrection. Couy Griffin had been previously convicted in federal court of a misdemeanor for entering the Capitol grounds, without going inside the building. He was sentenced to 14 days and given credit for time served.

Already, nearly 1,000 people have been charged so far in the January 6 insurrection and the tally increases by the week. Almost 500 people have pleaded guilty to riot-related charges and more than three dozen have been convicted at trial.

In November, Attorney General Merrick Garland named veteran prosecutor Jack Smith as special counsel to determine, among his duties, whether criminal charges should be filed against former President Trump for his role in the January 6 insurrection.

A month later the House Select Committee that investigated the January 6 insurrection voted to criminally refer Trump to the Department of Justice on for criminal charges, including insurrection.

Trump announced in November he’s running for reelection in 2024.

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