ROSWELL – In a packed gymnasium, Vanessa Tarango canvasses a crowd gathered to take advantage of public hours being held today by Consulate General of Mexico in El Paso. Tarango is a member of Somos Un Pueblo Unido, a statewide immigrant rights advocacy group that’s here to recruit new members. She and half a dozen other canvassers are scattered throughout St. Peter’s Parish gym in downtown Roswell. Here, flocks of people are waiting in line for help with their immigration documents, which include green cards and consular identification cards.
The New Mexico Supreme Court will rule on whether there is a right to “aid in dying” in New Mexico or not. Oral arguments will take place on October 26, in an expedited timeline. Decisions can typically take weeks or months afterward, and ruling from the bench and following up at a later date with a written opinion is extremely unlikely in such a case such as this. The Supreme Court set the date, including earlier dates for briefs and answer briefs to be sent to the court, on Monday. At issue is whether it is legal for physicians to aid terminally ill, mentally capable patients in choosing to end their life.
The New Mexico Supreme Court could decide once and for all if a law that forbids anyone to assist in ending the life of a terminally ill patient is legal. The American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico and the Disability Rights Legal Center asked the state’s high court for an expedited review of the case. The move comes just one week after the state Court of Appeals ruled on the case, reversing a District Court decision that said there was a right to “aid in dying” in New Mexico. The writ says the court must decide “one of the most private, intimate decisions made in a lifetime—how we face our own deaths.” The full request is available at the bottom of this post.
New Mexico employers must compensate workers who are medical marijuana patients for the cost of the medical marijuana, according to a recent ruling from the state Court of Appeals. On Friday, June 26, the court concluded that American General Media had improperly blocked workers’ compensation for medical marijuana for one of its employees who suffered from chronic pain. The court also ruled that federal law classifying marijuana as a Schedule 1 illegal substance doesn’t supersede New Mexico’s law allowing marijuana use for medical purposes. The case concerned Sandra Lewis, who has suffered from chronic pain after sustaining a work-related injury in 1998. She has been enrolled in the state’s Medical Cannabis Program since 2010.
The New Mexico Court of Appeals ruled that farm and ranch workers are eligible for worker’s compensation benefits that are available to workers in other industries. The court ruled unanimously on Thursday that denying benefits to injured farm workers is unconstitutional and called the statutory exclusion of ranch and farm workers “arbitrary.”
From the decision: We fail to see any real differences between workers who fall under the statutory definition of a farm and ranch laborer and workers who do not. We also fail to see any real differences between farm and ranch laborers and all other workers in New Mexico that would justify the exclusion. The ruling upheld a decision in the Second Judicial District Court, where a judge ruled the denial of benefits unconstitutional. In a written statement, the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty praised the court’s decision and called the court’s analysis “thorough and thoughtful.”
On behalf of the center, Legal Director Gail Evans wrote, “Finally, the men and women who pick our chile, milk our cows, and continue our tradition of being an agricultural state have the same rights to health care and lost wages as other workers in our state, when they are injured doing this dangerous and important work.”