NM Supreme Court justices to decide on abortion access, handling homelessness
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — New Mexico Supreme Court justices are considering two controversial issues right now — abortion access, and how to handle Albuquerque’s homelessness crisis.
Both had hearings in front of the state’s highest court Wednesday. There is no timeline for when the court could issue a ruling.
The hearing on abortion is focused on whether New Mexico cities or counties could craft their own rules limiting abortion access, despite a state law that protects abortion access.
Attorney General Raúl Torrez stepped up to argue abortion access shouldn’t be limited.
Joshua Kastenberg, a UNM law professor and KOB 4 legal expert, noted the national attention this case could get. He also noted the real problem for the cities and counties wanting to make their own rules was the trouble they had explaining their rules.
“They couldn’t answer questions on why the regulations in the counties existed in the first place when they were pinpointed at making a woman’s right to choose abortion impossible in those counties,” Kastenberg said.
Kastenberg believes the court will probably not side with the cities and counties.
The City of Albuquerque is fighting a lower court ruling limiting how they handle homeless camps.
“Last time I checked, we don’t decide things administratively,” Justice David Thomson said. “These are factual questions that the court needs to determine to see if this rises to a constitutional question as you just described.”
Questions like, is there really not enough shelter space for homeless people? How many people are just choosing to live on the street? Those answers are unclear.
There’s supposed to be an evidence hearing in that lower district court case, and Kastenberg says he thinks the New Mexico Supreme Court might send this issue back down to sort out the facts.
“I think that’s the most likely outcome, but I can’t say that’s going to happen for certain,” Kastenberg said.
The tension will continue between the city leaders arguing for public safety and the advocates fighting for the civil rights of homeless people. In the meantime, the city will likely stick with what they’ve been doing — trying to give encampments a 72-hour notice before cleaning up and moving people along.
Another district court hearing is scheduled for mid-January.