New Mexico Supreme Court to take up US Congressional District 2 redistricting case

ALBUQUERQUE — The New Mexico Supreme Court will take up a legal challenge to a congressional map that divides a conservative area of ​​the state, ordering Friday that the parties prepare to make oral arguments in early January.

Democratic Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, who is running for re-election, and her legislative allies had asked the Supreme Court to intervene and stay proceedings that began earlier this year in the state’s District Court.

The Republican Party and several other plaintiffs had sued the new map of the 2nd District in southern New Mexico, citing public comments from key Democratic lawmakers as evidence of partisan bias in district boundary decisions.

The case has implications for the district where Republican Yvette Herrell ousted a first-term Democrat in the 2020 election to regain GOP control of the seat. It includes one of the most lucrative oil-producing regions in the United States and extends to the remote reaches of the US border with Mexico.

In a ruling in April, District Judge Fred Van Soelen denied a preliminary injunction to void the card ahead of the June primaries and November general election. He said making changes “so late in the game” would cause chaos and not be in the best interest of the public.

He also noted that the map in question could potentially be used for the next five elections, until the next redistricting process in about 10 years, so the case – which could affect elections after 2022 – would continue.

GOP lawyer Christopher Murray had argued in court earlier this year that the Congressional map approved in December 2021 by the Democratic-led Legislature and signed by Lujan Grisham was partisan, diluted the conservative vote and violated the state’s constitutional rights to impartial government.

Lawyers for the Legislative Assembly and the governor defended the state congressional map, saying it was approved through the political process.

Democrats hold two of New Mexico’s three congressional seats, command majorities in the state House and Senate, make up the five-member Supreme Court, and hold all elected offices statewide.

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