WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Friday, Oct. 6, a New Mexico court upheld New Mexico’s congressional map holding that it is not an “egregious” partisan gerrymander.
This decision stems from a lawsuit filed by the Republican Party of New Mexico, state Sen. David Gallegos (R), former state Sen. Timothy Jennings (D) and a group of Republican voters challenging New Mexico’s congressional map drawn with 2020 census data.
The plaintiffs argued that the state’s congressional map is a partisan gerrymander that favors Democrats in violation of the New Mexico Constitution. The complaint alleged that the map drawers split communities of interest and unnecessarily divided counties, cities and significant areas, such as Albuquerque, to achieve a partisan outcome.
Previously, the plaintiffs asked a state trial court to strike down the new map and order the creation of a “partisan-neutral” map, but the trial court denied the plaintiffs’ request to block the map for the 2022 election cycle. The plaintiffs then appealed to the New Mexico Supreme Court, which issued its ruling on July 5 holding that partisan gerrymandering claims are justiciable under the New Mexico Constitution. Specifically, the state Supreme Court answered the question of whether “the New Mexico Constitution provides greater protection than the United States Constitution against partisan gerrymandering” with a firm yes. The case went back to the trial court for the court to determine if the map does qualify as an egregious partisan gerrymander.
Today, the trial court found that under the New Mexico Supreme Court’s established test for proving a partisan gerrymandering claim, the map is not an egregious partisan gerrymander.
The court found that while the congressional map does favor Democrats, “The Court does not find that the disparate treatment of vote dilution rises to the level of an egregious gerrymander.”
The court also found that although Democrats intended to “entrench their party in [Congressional District 2], and they succeeded in substantially diluting their opponents’ votes,” given “the variables that go into predicting future election outcomes, coupled with the competitive outcome of the only actual election held so far” under the map the court found that the Republican plaintiffs did not provide enough evidence to show that the defendants were “successful in their attempt to entrench their party in Congressional District 2.”