Lawsuit questions redrawing of congressional districts in New Mexico

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – On Monday, New Mexico’s Supreme Court heard arguments on a lawsuit challenging the state’s congressional redistricting. The map was redrawn in 2021.

Now, Republicans are calling on the court to allow them to build a case in New Mexico. The argument is that lawmakers intentionally redrew the district boundaries, specifically the 2nd Congressional District, in a way that broke up heavily Republican pockets.

Attorneys for the governor and lawmakers named in the suit want this case dismissed.

The argument Monday was really about whether or not the courts can and should have a role in what happens next.

The 2nd Congressional District makes up pretty much all of southern New Mexico. After redistricting, the new map splits up portions of southeastern New Mexico. 

Attorneys for the Republicans filing suit say that was done to dilute the Republican vote, creating a Democrat majority in all three congressional districts.

But attorneys representing lawmakers and the governor Monday told the Supreme Court this is not an issue for the judiciary.

“The court’s role is to protect individual rights of the people before it and not vindicate partisan preferences. Certainly, the role of the courts is not to involved the allocation of political power,” said Sara Sanchez, a Supreme Court attorney.

Those attorneys say any issues with the mapping need to go back through the legislative process for policy or other changes, if necessary.

But given the Democratic majority, attorneys for the Republicans filing suit believe the courts should provide a platform. They are asking the Supreme Court to send this case back to lower courts to allow them to begin to build a case on partisan gerrymandering.

“We’re asking for the opportunity to present our case and argue in front of the trial court that this is one of those cases, and not to have the courthouse doors closed on us,” said Daniel Gallegos, a plaintiff’s attorney.

The most recent election was brought up Monday. Though Democrat Gabe Vasquez won the CD-2 seat from incumbent Rep. Yvette Herrell it was an extremely tight race.

One justice asked what a “fair” outcome would have looked like. There were a ton of questions from the high court.

Typically, there is a decision on the same day, that did not happen Monday, but they will be working on it.