June 27, 2023

Another referendum case against SOS dismissed

Joe Gratz


Another court filing claiming Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver overstepped her authority has been dismissed, this time in state district court in Chaves County.

The allegations come from a series of attempted referendum petitions being circulated without proper authorizations which include the SOS’s stamp and the New Mexico Attorney General’s signature.

The petitioner in this case, Larry Marker, petitioned the court for a declaratory judgment asserting that the SOS “exceeded her authority in determining that HB 7, entitled An Act Relating to Health; Protecting Access to Reproductive and Gender-Affirming Health Care; Providing for Enforcement; Prescribing Relief, was an act ‘providing for the preservation of the public peace, health or safety’ under Section 1 and therefore exempt from the referendum process.”

Fifth Judicial District Court Judge James M. Hudson determined otherwise.

“The Secretary of State has been delegated the authority by the Legislature to determine whether a law subject to a proposed referendum is subject to the referendum process or falls within an exception,” the order to dismiss states. 

More: SOS: The petitions seeking to repeal laws are not legitimate, first of several cases about it dismissed

Additionally, the petition only stated that the SOS lacked authority, it did not “ask this Court to review whether the Secretary properly exercised her authority. Nonetheless,… the Court cannot foreclose that possibility,” the order states.

This is the second time a New Mexico court has ruled that Toulouse Oliver was within her purview to deny the petitions.

Activists have attempted to force a vote to repeal six bills passed by the legislature during this year’s regular session.

The six bills cover abortion rights, school-based health centers, gender identity, voter rights, mandatory training for poll watchers and voter roll update clarifications.

The case was dismissed with prejudice which means it cannot be refiled; however, it can be appealed.