New Mexico GOP to file suit against public health order

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — It’s been four days since New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced a temporary gun ban in public spaces in Albuquerque and across Bernalillo County – and the outrage keeps growing.

State Republican leaders say they are ready to take the battle to the courts. New Mexico Republican Party Chairman Steve Pearce admitted that it will not be an easy fight, but they are planning to file a lawsuit against the public health order Wednesday.

That’s on top of lawsuits from New Mexico House and Senate Republicans. Party leaders say they’re planning to combine all of those together soon.

Despite many opponents focused on Second Amendment rights, Pearce says the GOP lawsuit will actually focus on the governor’s emergency powers.

On Friday, the governor asserted she does have the ability to declare public health emergencies, giving her more authoritative powers. However, Republican leaders say that does not include overturning constitutional rights.

“The governor says she has the right to disobey the Constitution – that it doesn’t apply in all circumstances,” Pearce said. “I would beg to disagree with her. A constitution is merely a contract. This contract with the Constitution, our founding fathers set up as a contract between the people and the government. Always in a contract, the lesser party is protected and the more powerful party has its rights limited.”

Pearce made it clear he believes the governor’s order – if left unchallenged – would make it possible for her to suspend other constitutional rights, including free speech and assembly.

Pearce did not elaborate on how the party’s lawsuit will specifically challenge the order, or what it’s trying to accomplish, but he believes they have a strong argument on their hands.

“I believe the Supreme Court here in New Mexico is going to agree with us that there are limits to everyone’s power, even the governor’s power, even the president’s power,” Pearce said. “No one is above the law, and that’s our message today to the governor.”

Pearce said Tuesday their lawsuit is also targeting the two other people who co-signed the governor’s order – New Mexico Department of Health Secretary Patrick Allen and Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver.