NM Supreme Court overrides judge, forces indoor dining to close again | KOB 4

NM Supreme Court overrides judge, forces indoor dining to close again

NM Supreme Court overrides judge, forces indoor dining to close again

KOB Web Staff & Megan Abundis
Updated: July 20, 2020 10:12 PM
Created: July 20, 2020 05:16 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.- The New Mexico Supreme Court swiftly stepped in Monday and forced indoor dining at restaurants to close.

The governor requested a writ of supervisory control or a "Stay of Temporary Restraining Order" after Eddy County District Court Judge Raymond Romero issued a restraining order, which allowed restaurants to reopen indoor dining for at least 10 days.

The state Supreme Court granted the stay, and ordered the governor and the suing parties, which includes the New Mexico Restaurant Association, to submit their arguments by next week.

The New Mexico Restaurant Association sued the governor, claiming the industry was singled out in the public health order which bans indoor dining.

UNM law professor Joshua Kastenberg outlined what the stay means for restaurant owners.

"During the time the stay is issued, the judge at that level is somewhat powerless to issue any new orders and the restaurant owners cannot open for indoor dining until the Supreme Court decides on the issue," he said. "Having said that, this is not a foregone conclusion. My sense is that the governor's ruling will be upheld. On the other hand, you never know."

The governor's writ has only been used twice in New Mexico's history. The first time was during the Prohibition Era 100 years ago and the second was in 1995 in a driving under the influence ruling.

Statement from the governor: 

“I am grateful for the court’s quick action,” said Gov. Lujan Grisham. “Businesses all across New Mexico have been battered by the effects of this pandemic; they are owed consistency and fairness, which my administration has endeavored to provide at every opportunity. We will continue to provide that while taking every single possible action to protect the health and well-being of New Mexicans -- including workers and customers at our restaurants. I appreciate the high court’s recognition of the importance of consistent application and enforcement and the opportunity to bolster our case that high-contact indoor environments where face-coverings cannot be worn present an untenable risk given the incredible danger of COVID-19 at the moment.”

Statement from the New Mexico Restaurant Association: 

The New Mexico Restaurant Association was just notified of the New Mexico State Supreme Court action to uphold the current public health order prohibiting indoor dining at New Mexico restaurants.

The ruling by the Supreme Court does not address the merits that the Governor’s order is arbitrary and capricious and further arguments will be addressed by the Court.  We are hopeful that our 3 branches of government will prevail and the Supreme Court will find with New Mexican restaurants.  We will stay steadfast in our endeavor to save the livelihoods of so many New Mexico families. 

It is painful that the lack of response by the Governor’s office in District Court was just a game to move this into the Supreme Court costing restaurants vital resources, regardless of the damages to businesses and families. Our restaurants will comply with the health order and continue using our COVID safe practices until we have our day in court. We are still requesting that the Governor engage in a dialogue with our industry to address the pandemic in a way that does not ruin businesses. 

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