WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Wednesday, July 5, the New Mexico Supreme Court issued an order holding that partisan gerrymandering claims are justiciable under the New Mexico Constitution.
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. As a result of yesterday’s order, the case will now continue in the trial court.
The plaintiffs argue that the state’s congressional map is a partisan gerrymander that favors Democrats in violation of the New Mexico Constitution. The complaint alleges 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 today. Specifically, the state Supreme Court ruled on the question of whether “the New Mexico Constitution provides greater protection than the United States Constitution against partisan gerrymandering” with a firm yes.
Yesterday’s order unpauses the case — which has been paused since August 2022 — in the trial court and states that the trial court should resolve the matter before Oct. 1, 2023. Importantly, the order provides a standard for the lower court to apply in order to determine whether New Mexico’s congressional map is a partisan gerrymander.