New Mexico AG Hector Balderas joins in amicus brief supporting lawsuit against Texas’ anti-abortion laws 

New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas joined and a coalition of 21 attorneys general signed onto an amicus brief in support of Fund Texas Choice v. Paxton, a lawsuit waged to protect abortion access in other states from Texas anti-abortion laws. New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas, a Democrat, joined 20 other attorneys general in signing the “friend of the court” brief supporting a Texas abortion fund fighting a legal battle to protect interstate travel for abortion care. The brief, filed on Friday, supports the abortion fund’s motion to halt Texas abortion laws that violate the constitutional right to interstate travel by impeding pregnant individuals in Texas from crossing state lines to seek an abortion. According to the motion, Texas’ abortion laws unlawfully interfere with the constitutional right to interstate travel. One of the concerns, according to the brief, is that thousands of individuals who are residents of states such as New Mexico, where abortion is legal, could be living in Texas for college, graduate school or serving as temporary workers and could find themselves in need of an abortion. 

Millions more travel to Texas as visitors, and they, too, could be in need of abortion care while traveling.

Guv and AG file motion to dismiss lawsuit challenging New Mexico’s legal abortion status

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas filed a motion on Thursday to dismiss a lawsuit challenging New Mexico’s legal abortion status. Filed in the Fifth Judicial District Court in Chaves County in late June by state Sen. David Gallegos, R-Eunice, Roswell-based write-in Independent candidate for New Mexico Commissioner of Public Lands Larry Marker and Albuquerque-based former Republican primary candidate for Governor Ethel Maharg, the original suit challenged the fact that New Mexico legislature’s repeal of the state’s 1969 anti-abortion law allows legal abortion across the state. “Simply stated, no law, act or statute exists that allows for or legalizes abortion procedures in the state of New Mexico,” the lawsuit stated. Abortion remains legal in the state of New Mexico because the 2021 Legislature repealed the 1969 law that banned abortion, criminalizing it with few exceptions. Lujan Grisham signed the Respect New Mexico Women and Families Act in February 2021, before the legislature ended its session.

Nonprofit alleges legal violations as medical debt lawsuits continue unabated during pandemic

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed a 2021 bill into law carving out new consumer protections for people with medical debt. The law required hospitals and debt collection agencies to verify patients’ income level before taking them to court or sending a hefty bill. But some hospitals have routinely failed to do that since the Patients’ Debt Collection Protection Act took effect in July 2021, according to Nicolas Cordova, an attorney at the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty. Among other protections, the new law requires hospitals to verify that a patient’s income status doesn’t fall below 200 percent of the federal poverty line before taking them to court or sending their unpaid bill to a collection agency like CBF Services or Kryptonite Credit Servers, two of the most prolific debt collection firms working in New Mexico. “I can tell you anecdotally, we know there are hospitals that are not doing that,” Cordova said.

Advocates, elected officials and the public respond with rallies and outrage over Supreme Court draft decision on abortion rights

The leaked draft of a U.S. Supreme Court decision on the case that appears poised to overturn Roe v. Wade woke up many on Tuesday to a “shocking” reality which may be imminent. Politico released on Monday a leaked draft document, dated February from the Supreme Court. The document is a majority opinion on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the case the court heard in early December. Because the document is still a draft, there is still opportunity for the court to rule differently in late June or early July, though it appears unlikely with the current makeup of the court. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito authored the draft, which overturns Roe v. Wade and rules in favor of the state of Mississippi in the Dobbs case.

AG, SOS issue warning over Otero County ‘vigilante audit’

The state’s top elections official and top lawyer issued a warning over an election “audit” taking place in Otero County, telling residents they are under no obligation to participate in the audit or provide any information. Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver, in a call with media members on Wednesday, referred to the effort as a “vigilante audit” and said “there is nothing that is legitimate about this process in my point of view.”

It came to light after a TikTok video by an Otero County voter received lots of attention when she highlighted a visit from a group called the New Mexico Audit Force. 

The effort, which echoes efforts made by conservatives and some far-right politicians throughout the country regarding the 2020 elections, was authorized by the Otero County Commission and outsourced to the New Mexico Audit Force. That group is sending volunteers door-to-door to speak to voters and gather personal information. Attorney General Hector Balderas and Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver issued a release to remind voters of their rights and what information is publicly available in the form of voter records. No voter is required to provide information on who they voted for or on how they voted on ballot issues, the two reminded.

Federal judge: Cowboys for Trump must disclose donors

A Donald Trump-supporting political group run by a controversial New Mexico county commissioner must disclose its donors, a federal appeals court judge ruled Tuesday, affirming a lower court’s previous decision. The judge ruled in a case where Cowboys for Trump challenged the constitutionality of New Mexico’s Campaign Reporting Act, after the Secretary of State ordered the group to identify who funded the group. State Attorney General Hector Balderas heralded the decision. “All elected officials and dark money groups in this nation must follow election reporting requirements in order to protect the public interest, and no one is above the law,” he said. Cowboys for Trump is run by Couy Griffin, an Otero County commissioner who traveled throughout the country in support of former President Donald Trump.

Guv: Legislature’s inability to tackle crime ‘defies explanation’

A day after the mother of a teenage murder victim cried at the Capitol as lawmakers approved a bill said to be lenient on criminals, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham embarked on a public relations campaign that shifted the blame for lack of action on her “tough-on-crime” agenda to the Legislature. Lujan Grisham, a Democrat running for re-election this year, told reporters “it defies explanation” why lawmakers in the Democrat-controlled Legislature have been unable to reach consensus on bills meant to fight crime in New Mexico. “I don’t understand why they don’t want to tackle it head on, but I’m going to stay the course for as long as it takes because we all have a responsibility to our families and our communities to do everything we can about it,” Lujan Grisham said. 

A short time later, her office issued a news release stating the governor, along with Attorney General Hector Balderas and members of her public safety team, had met with the mothers of violent crime victims, including Nicole Chavez, who was in tears at the Capitol a day earlier as the Senate passed a controversial bill on a sentencing option for juveniles convicted of first-degree murder. “Governor, Attorney General meet with family of crime victims, reiterate commitment to meaningful action,” the news release proclaimed. “I am deeply troubled and frustrated by the Legislature’s reluctance to take meaningful action — and New Mexicans should be outraged,” Lujan Grisham said in a statement in the news release, which included pictures of the governor sitting across from Chavez and Angel Alire, whose son also was gunned down in Albuquerque.

New Mexico AG joins suit to fight Texas six-week gestational abortion ban

New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas joined attorneys general from 22 other states and the District of Columbia on an amicus brief in support of the U.S. Attorney General’s suit against Texas’ six-week gestation ban. Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey is the lead on the brief but Balderas spoke along with Healey during a press conference held virtually on Wednesday to discuss the amicus brief and the Texas law that went into effect at the beginning of September. U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland announced last week the U.S. Department of Justice is suing Texas to stop the unconstitutional six-week gestational abortion ban. The attorney’s general amicus brief is a document that provides support to the DOJ’s lawsuit. Calling the Texas six-week gestational ban “another reckless attempt at Texas restricting the rights of women and families across this country,” Balderas cited the various ways the Texas law is harming individuals living in New Mexico.

New Mexico sues, argues interim nuclear storage facility could put environment, economy at risk

Concerns that the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has not properly vetted a proposal to locate a nuclear waste storage facility in Lea and Eddy counties led New Mexico to file a lawsuit on Monday in U.S. District Court. Holtec International, a New Jersey-based company, filed an application in 2017 for a license to construct and operate an interim storage facility in New Mexico. This comes as the United States lacks long-term storage for nuclear waste generated during power production and has been searching for a solution. While searching for solutions, interim storage facilities have been identified as one possible solution. 

The state argues that the license is outside of the scope of authority for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission because of the impacts the facility could have to the people of New Mexico. These potential impacts could be both economic and environmental, according to the suit.

Trump campaign drops election lawsuit nearly 70 days after election day

Donald Trump’s campaign dropped a lawsuit over the use of ballot drop boxes in New Mexico’s elections—part of the campaign’s nationwide, unsuccessful efforts to overturn election results after he lost his reelection bid. 

The campaign filed the lawsuit in mid-December, weeks after the election and after the state had certified its election results and the same day New Mexico’s electors cast their ballots for Democrat Joe Biden. The lawsuit centered on the legality of ballot dropboxes for absentee ballots, and echoed a lawsuit filed in state court by the party. The party withdrew that lawsuit ahead of the election after it said the party came to a “consensual resolution” with the Secretary of State. Like the other lawsuits, dozens of which the campaign had dismissed or lost, the lawsuit was aimed at overturning election results. But unlike in some states with relatively close margins of victory for Joe Biden, Trump lost the election in New Mexico by nearly 100,000 votes and over 11 percentage points.