Supreme Court opens new frontier for insurrection claims that could target state and local officials

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SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Two recent U.S. Supreme Court actions have opened the door to a new legal frontier in which local and state officials can be disqualified from office for life for engaging in “insurrection” or providing “aid and comfort” to enemies of the Constitution, based on a post-Civil War era addition to the nation’s foundational legal document and how the courts interpret it.

The Supreme Court on Monday rejected an appeal from a former New Mexico county commissioner who was kicked out of office after he was convicted of trespassing during the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol. The state judge who barred him from office did so on the grounds that his actions violated Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, which was added to the Constitution in 1868 to prevent Confederates from returning to government.

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The move came on the heels of an expedited high-court ruling that Section 3 can’t be used against federal officials or candidates until Congress writes a law outlining procedures to do so. That includes former President Donald Trump, the target of a national campaign to end his bid to return to the White House via the 14th Amendment.

But the court’s ruling in the Trump case explicitly said the provision could still be used against state and local officials.

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