May 9, 2017

Some Republican legislators back Martinez in veto lawsuit

Some House and Senate Republicans say that if the New Mexico Supreme Court overturns line-item vetoes by the governor the court would disenfranchise members of the minority caucuses in each chamber.

Last month, the New Mexico Legislature filed a lawsuit against Gov. Susana Martinez, accusing her of violating the state constitution when she vetoed the entirety of the budgets for the state Legislature and all higher education in New Mexico.

In a court filing, attorneys for the Republican members of the Legislature say they wish to file the amicus brief because they disagree with the lawsuit filed after approval by the Legislative Council.  That lawsuit says Martinez’s vetoes should be overturned.

The Republicans—eight members of the Senate and 23 members of the House—say the legislative lawsuit seeks “to disenfranchise the minority caucus” and that the question raised by the lawsuit is a political issue, not a legal one.

The Republicans’ filing refers to the necessary “give and take” between not just the Legislature and the Governor, but between the majority and minority parties.

The Legislative Council did not make its vote to move forward with the lawsuit public. But three Republican members of the Council, all from the House, signed onto the request to file a brief opposing the suit.

Those members are Zach Cook of Ruidoso, Rod Montoya of Farmington and Candy Spence Ezzell of Roswell. Montoya is also the House minority whip. House Minority Leader Nate Gentry did not sign onto the request, nor did any members of the Senate leadership.

The Republican legislators’ filing argues that a tax reform that broadened the tax base and lowered the tax rate would raise revenue.

The governor’s office recently filed a brief seeking to have the court throw the case out. Attorneys for the Republican legislators says their brief would differ “in that their brief would assist the Court by highlighting the position of the minority caucus, a key member of the legislative process.”

Attorneys Christopher Saucedo and Daniel Apodaca filed the brief on behalf of the Republican legislators.