September 19, 2023

State GOP, legislators file suit against MLG over executive orders

Republican Party of New Mexico Chairman Steve Pearce speaks at a press conference September 12, 2023.

Nicole Maxwell/New Mexico Political Report

Republican Party of New Mexico Chairman Steve Pearce speaks at a press conference September 12, 2023.

Opponents of the governor’s actions to address gun violence are targeting her executive orders.

The Republican Party of New Mexico, all Republican members of both the New Mexico House and Senate, the Libertarian Party of New Mexico and others filed legal action against Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Sept. 14.

The plaintiffs are asking for the executive orders issued Sept 8 to be withdrawn in a case filed in New Mexico Supreme Court on Sept. 14.

The case asks the Court to issue a “writ vacating or commanding withdrawal of the executive orders, and clarify for the Governor, the public, and posterity that gun violence and drug abuse are not ‘public health emergencies’ allowing the arrogation of plenary emergency powers, and that the Legislature’s carefully-considered, comprehensive, and uniform statewide scheme for regulating the carrying of firearms cannot be blown up in an instant by executive fiat,” court records state.

On Sept. 15, a federal district judge in Albuquerque placed a temporary restraining order on the part of one of the executive orders banning firearms in Bernalillo County.

Even though the judge temporarily halted the most controversial part of the executive orders, the suit will continue.

The governor took out most of the gun ban from her executive order late last week, though it still applies at playgrounds or parks.

“The Republican Party of New Mexico and every Republican in our state legislature have united to fight against the tyrannical actions of Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham and NM Secretary of Health Patrick M. Allen,” state Republican Party chair Steve Pearce said in a news release about the lawsuit. “If we don’t hold Gov. Lujan Grisham’s unlawful actions accountable now, future politicians may exploit public health emergencies to implement any unconstitutional efforts they see fit.”

Republicans criticized the governor’s use of the public health orders, a law that came into effect after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, during the COVID-19 pandemic.

An effort in 2020 by the party to call for an extraordinary session to limit the governor’s powers under the law went nowhere.

In this year’s legislative session, bipartisan legislation that would have terminated a state of emergency after 90 days unless the Legislature approved an extension failed in a House committee.