Lawsuit challenges New Mexico’s rededication of congressional districts

ALBUQUERQUE, NM – On Monday, the New Mexico Supreme Court heard arguments in a lawsuit challenging congressional re-election of the districts. The map was redrawn in 2021.

Now Republicans are asking the court to allow them to build a case in New Mexico. The argument is that the legislature deliberately redrew the county lines, particularly the 2nd congressional district, in a way that severely opened Republican pockets.

Attorneys for the governor and lawmakers named in the lawsuit want the case dismissed.

Monday’s argument was really about whether the courts can and should have a role in what happens next.

The 2nd congressional district makes up pretty much all of southern New Mexico. After redistribution, the new map divides parts of southeastern New Mexico.

Republican attorneys filing the lawsuit say it was done to water down Republican votes and create a Democratic majority in all three congressional districts.

But attorneys representing the legislature and governor on Monday told the Supreme Court it was not a problem for the judiciary.

“The role of the court is to protect people’s individual rights from it and to justify nonpartisan preferences. Certainly the role of the courts is not to distribute political power,” said Sara Sanchez, attorney at the Supreme Court.

These advocates say that any mapping issues may need to go through the legislative process for policy or other changes.

But given the Democratic majority, attorneys for the Republicans filing the lawsuit believe the courts should provide a platform. They are asking the Supreme Court to refer this case back to lower courts so they can start building a case on partisan gerrymandering.

“We are asking for an opportunity to present our case and argue in the trial court that this is one of those cases and that the courthouse doors will not be locked on us,” said Daniel Gallegos, attorney for one plaintiff.

The last election was held on Monday. Although Democrat Gabe Vasquez won the CD-2 seat ahead of incumbent Rep. Yvette Herrell, it was an extremely close race.

A judge asked what a “fair” result would have looked like. There were a lot of questions from the Supreme Court.

Usually there is a decision the same day that hasn’t happened on Monday, but they will work on it.