Legal expert explains which side has edge in challenge to governor’s order
SANTA FE, N.M. – On Monday, the New Mexico Supreme Court will hear a case against Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s recent public health order.
It’s from a group of people who want the court to throw the order out. The order adds state police in the metro, which has led to an increase in arrests, and it makes other changes.
But these groups are challenging the limitations on guns within the order. They say banning guns at public parks and playgrounds in Bernalillo County is unconstitutional, that gun violence does not fall under a “public health emergency,” and these kinds of decisions should be up to state legislators.
The governor has maintained she has the right to issue the order to crack down on crime and keep the public safe.
KOB 4 Legal Expert and University of New Mexico Law Professor Josh Kastenberg says the challenge may be successful.
“I think the governor’s argument is an uphill climb to succeed before the state Supreme Court,” said Kastenburg.
He says the way our state’s laws are written and the results of other cases could hurt the governor’s argument.
“The plain language disfavors the governor’s action. Interpretable language could uphold the governor,” Kastenburg said.
Something that may be in the governor’s favor is the CDC has expanded the definition of a public health emergency to include problems like sexual assault and gun violence. In America’s history, governors have issued orders involving more than just diseases.
Tommy Lopez: “So you’re saying ‘uphill battle. ‘So, really, the governor is unlikely to win this in your mind.”
Kastenburg: “Well, the governor may win it on the authority issue, but the Second Amendment and the New Mexico analog issue is the second step of this, and to me, that’s where the real battle is.”
“So we could see a real back-and-forth, a real fight, within the realm of gun control and law and rights in this case.”
“Does that mean that, regardless of the scope and the outcome, that the case itself may have an increased importance because of what it could mean for future cases?”
Kastenburg: “Absolutely, in two ways. One is, what is the power of our governor under the New Mexico constitution. What would extend beyond the state, and be highly politicized, is how the court addresses gun rights vs. gun limitations. That is the second stage.”
Kastenberg says that whether the order has been effective in preventing shootings is meaningless in this case.
If the governor wins, the U.S. Supreme Court could still step in and shoot down the order.
If the governor loses any aspect of this battle, Kastenberg points out that state lawmakers can pass bills to add gun limitations statewide, or to give the governor certain powers.
Arguments in front of the New Mexico Supreme Court are set to begin Monday morning.