NM Supreme Court hears arguments on public health order

Concealed Carry

The New Mexico Supreme Court heard arguments Monday without issuing a ruling on Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s public health order regarding gun violence and drug abuse. Detractors say the problems with the order go far beyond the well-publicized gun ban.

Gun rights advocates from the National Rifle Association to the Republican Party of New Mexico made a case to the state supreme court saying the public health order the governor signed in September is too broad and overreaching.

The justices pushed both sides to define the limit of a public health order. Chief Justice Shannon Bacon told Holly Agajanian, the governor’s chief general counsel, that the order on its face seems very broad.

“I can conceive of almost anything being a public health emergency if I adopt your client’s perspective,” she said.

The order has gotten national attention for its ban on open and concealed carry in public spaces. That was amended to just parks and playgrounds a week after the governor signed the order, after a federal judge had struck it down.

The governor was not represented at the hearing by New Mexico Attorney General Raúl Torrez, who said he would not defend the governor from legal challenges to the public health order.

The justices also pushed for data to back up the measures prescribed in the order. Justice Michael Vigil pointed to the rollback of a juvenile detention diversion program as a move with no apparent data to back it up.

“That just jumps out. There’s nothing in the executive order supporting that,” he said.

The prosecution also argued that the order oversteps into the legislature’s territory, pointing to the diversion program, which is written into New Mexico law.

This coverage is made possible by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and KUNM listeners.

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