Republicans challenge New Mexico redistricting after loss

Jan 8, 2023, 5:48 PM | Updated: Jan 9, 2023, 9:40 pm
The New Mexico Supreme Court was scheduled to hear oral arguments at its headquarters in Santa Fe, ...

The New Mexico Supreme Court was scheduled to hear oral arguments at its headquarters in Santa Fe, N.M., on Monday, Jan. 9, 2023, in a legal challenge to a congressional map that divvies up a politically conservative region of the state. It's one of several court battles in states from Kentucky to Utah regarding U.S. House districts enacted by state legislatures and alleged constitutional violations. (AP Photo/Morgan Lee)

(AP Photo/Morgan Lee)

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Attorneys for Democratic lawmakers in New Mexico urged the state Supreme Court on Monday to dismiss a Republican challenge to a congressional map that divvies up a politically conservative region of the state.

The case is one of several court battles in states from Kentucky to Utah regarding U.S. House districts enacted by state legislatures and alleged constitutional violations.

Chief Justice Shannon Bacon said the court would take a deliberative approach, setting aside time with no deadline to forge a decision, after hourlong oral arguments guided heavily by questions from justices.

The Republican Party and several other plaintiffs have accused Democratic lawmakers in New Mexico of breaking up the southeastern corner of the state — an oil-producing region and Republican stronghold — into three districts “for raw political gain.”

The case holds implications for the 2nd Congressional District where Democrat Gabe Vasquez in November ousted incumbent U.S. Rep. Yvette Herrell. The majority-Hispanic district currently stretches from the U.S. border with Mexico across desert oilfields and portions of Albuquerque.

Sara Sanchez, an attorney for leading Democratic legislators, urged the high court Monday to uphold the new congressional maps and steer clear of a “political thicket,” arguing that state law provides the legislature and governor with broad authority to draw political boundaries.

“This has to be an extreme situation,” for the judiciary to intervene in redistricting, Sanchez said. “It’s a political process, somebody’s ox is being gored. And if every time someone didn’t get the political shakes that they wanted in their district, they’re going to come to this court. … I would suggest a high bar.”

Daniel Gallegos, representing the Republican Party and allied plaintiffs, said the new congressional map flouts traditional standards of redistricting that held sway over the past three decades. He said it would be unfair to block access to judicial review in state district court so soon.

“Our only option would be to go back to them (at the Legislature) and expect that the political process is going to work out,” Gallegos said.

Clovis-based District Judge Fred Van Soelen in April cleared the way for Republicans to challenge the new congressional map, while barring immediate changes that might have disrupted the 2022 midterm election.

Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and leading Democratic legislators then asked the Supreme Court to intervene and preserve their redistricting plan.

They say new boundaries to the state’s three congressional districts were vetted appropriately through the political process to ensure more competitive districts that reflect population shifts, with deference to Native American communities.

In related litigation at the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, justices are considering a challenge that would leave state legislatures virtually unchecked in making rules for congressional and presidential elections. Arguments were presented in December.

Republicans from North Carolina who brought that case to the high court argue that a provision of the U.S. Constitution known as the elections clause gives state lawmakers virtually total control over the “times, places and manner” of congressional elections, including redistricting.

That means cutting state courts out of the process, they say. State courts have become the only legal forum for challenging partisan congressional maps since the Supreme Court ruled in 2019 that those lawsuits cannot be brought in federal court.

The stakes in that case are high because Republicans won only a slim House majority in the November 2022 elections, giving them just enough power to challenge President Joe Biden’s agenda. Any ruling that causes some districts to be redrawn likely would kick in for the 2024 elections.

In New Mexico, Democrats won all three congressional contests in November. They control every statewide elected office, command majorities in the state House and Senate, and make up the five-member Supreme Court.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

This undated photo provided by the Grants Pass Police Department shows Benjamin Obadiah Foster. Fos...
Rio Yamat and Andrew Selsky, Associated Press

Oregon kidnap suspect previously released the day he arrived at prison

A man at the center of an intense police search in Oregon after a violent kidnapping last week was released from custody in October 2021 by Nevada prison officials on the same day he was transferred to the state's custody to serve a kidnapping sentence, authorities said Monday.
12 hours ago
FILE - Military personnel watch as Air Force One, with President Donald Trump aboard, prepares to d...
Associated Press

Boeing bids farewell to an icon, delivers last 747 jumbo jet

SEATTLE (AP) — Boeing bids farewell to an icon on Tuesday: It’s delivering its final 747 jumbo jet. Since its first flight in 1969, the giant yet graceful 747 has served as a cargo plane, a commercial aircraft capable of carrying nearly 500 passengers, a transport for NASA’s space shuttles, and the Air Force One […]
12 hours ago
seattle police...
Associated Press

Name of Seattle officer in crash that killed woman released

Police have released the name of a Seattle police officer who was responding to a medical call when his patrol SUV hit and killed a 23-year-old Jaahnavi Kandula last week in a city crosswalk.
12 hours ago
Associated Press

DC arrests city employee over shooting death of 13-year-old

WASHINGTON (AP) — Police arrested a D.C. city employee Tuesday over the fatal shooting of a 13-year old that has roiled community passions. Jason Lewis, a longtime Parks and Recreation Department employee, turned himself in Tuesday morning to face charges of second-degree murder while armed. Lewis shot Karon Blake on Jan. 7, around 4 a.m., […]
2 days ago
Omaha, Neb., police officers gather outside a Target store in Omaha on Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2023. They...
Associated Press

Omaha police fatally shoot armed man in Target store

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Omaha police say they fatally shot a man who entered a Target store with an AR-15-style rifle on Tuesday and “plenty of ammunition.” Police Chief Todd Schmaderer said officers searched for victims, including customers and workers “because there were some people hiding in there.” No injured people were immediately found. Schmaderer […]
2 days ago
President Joe Biden speaks at the construction site of the Hudson Tunnel Project, Tuesday, Jan. 31,...
Associated Press

AP Source: FBI searched Biden’s former office in November

WASHINGTON (AP) — The FBI searched President Joe Biden’s former office at the Penn Biden Center in Washington in November, according to a person familiar with the matter, weeks after his personal lawyers first found classified records there from his time as vice president. The discovery of the documents at the office blocks away from […]
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.
Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.
SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Republicans challenge New Mexico redistricting after loss