Supreme Court rejects Ten Commandments monument appeal

The case of a statue of the Ten Commandments in Bloomfield came to an end Monday, as the U.S. Supreme Court denied statue supporters’ an appeal to the high court. The city of Bloomfield was ordered by a federal district court to remove the monument in 2014, citing the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, which says, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld that ruling two years later, leaving the city’s final option to push for a U.S. Supreme Court hearing. The American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico announced Monday that the attempted appeal was rejected. “This is a victory for the religious liberty of people everywhere,” ACLU of New Mexico Executive Director Peter Simonson said in a statement. “The Supreme Court’s decision to let the rulings against the monument stand sends a strong message that the government should not be in the business of picking and choosing which sets of religious beliefs enjoy special favor in the community.

Court of Appeals reverses district court decision on ‘aid in dying’

A state appeals court ruled that there is no right to “aid in dying” in New Mexico, reversing a district court decision. The New Mexico Court of Appeals filed the split ruling on Tuesday after oral arguments in January. At issue is whether a 1963 law that makes it a fourth degree felony for  “assisting suicide” is constitutional. “We conclude that aid in dying is not a fundamental liberty interest under the New Mexico Constitution,” the opinion on Morris v. King states. The opinion allows the state to continue enforcing the law against aiding in dying.

Abortion measure modeled after Texas restrictions blocked in Senate

One of several Republican proposals to restrict abortion access in New Mexico stalled Tuesday night as a Democrat-controlled panel tabled legislation centered on a requirement that abortion physicians obtain hospital admitting privileges. Sen. Craig Brandt, R-Rio Rancho, told the Senate Public Affairs Committee that his SB 437 was intended to ensure that women undergoing abortion procedures have “the safest accommodations for doing so.”

The bill would prohibit abortion doctors from administering a procedure unless they’ve been granted special permissions to admit patients to a hospital within 30 miles of where the abortion is being performed. Brandt said the bill’s provisions would guarantee “that the doctor gets help that’s needed during emergencies.”

Brandt said his measure “gives the woman information she needs in her medical records if there’s a complication” following an abortion procedure. He added that SB 437 stemmed directly from the approval of a similar bill in Texas and dealt with concerns cited by proponents of another 2012 measure passed in Mississippi. Lalita Russ, a staffer at Planned Parenthood, testified that the non-profit organization provides a range of services, including birth control and screenings for sexually transmitted infections and certain cancers.