Judge delivers bad news to Gov. Lujan Grisham over executive order

On Tuesday, a federal judge, David Herrera Urias, issued a temporary restraining order, blocking Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s revised public health order that prohibited firearms in parks, playgrounds, and other public places where children play in Albuquerque and across Bernalillo County — another blow to the governor. 

The extension of the temporary restraining order comes as Judge Urias considers a request for an injunction on the revised order. He has committed to making a decision on this matter by October 11.

The legal action follows at least five lawsuits filed in U.S. District Court, with plaintiffs asserting that the governor’s initial order, which banned carrying open or concealed firearms in public spaces in New Mexico’s most populous city and county, infringes on Second Amendment rights. The lawsuits primarily seek court orders to prevent the state from enforcing the gun ban.

The National Association for Gun Rights (NAGR), one of the complainants, swiftly filed a lawsuit within 24 hours of the governor issuing the public health order. Dudley Brown, president of the Colorado-based organization, emphasized the uniqueness of New Mexico’s situation, stating, “This is the most egregious ban ever produced in modern America.”

While Judge Urias evaluates the legal aspects of the firearms ban, the political landscape surrounding Governor Lujan Grisham is becoming increasingly tumultuous. Representatives Lord and Block have initiated calls for the governor’s impeachment, citing concerns over her handling of public health orders and potential violations of constitutional rights.

The federal judge’s decision to extend the temporary restraining order adds another layer to the ongoing legal battle over gun regulations. The outcome, expected by October 11, will have significant implications not only for Governor Lujan Grisham’s public health measures but also for the broader debate on Second Amendment rights in the state.

As the legal proceedings unfold, the governor faces mounting pressure on the political front, with calls for impeachment intensifying. State Reps. Stefani Lord (R-Sandia Park) and John Block (R-Alamogordo) continue to pursue impeachment proceedings against the governor over her unconstitutional order and her claims that no law or oath is “absolute.”

Democrat NM lawmaker to resign for job in another state

In a shocking Monday announcement, University of Colorado Boulder Chancellor Philip DiStefano revealed that New Mexico state Sen. Benny Shendo, Jr. (D-Jemez Pueblo) was appointed Associate Vice Chancellor for Native American Affairs at CU Boulder. He will relinquish the state Senate seat by the spring of 2024.

A graduate of the University, Shendo brings his experience as a New Mexico state senator and his former high positions, such as tribal administrator and lieutenant governor for the Pueblo of Jemez.

Portrait of New Mexico state Sen. Benny Shendo, Jr.

A commitment to Native American affairs has marked Shendo’s professional journey, evident in his past roles at the University of New Mexico and as part of the dean of students office at Stanford University. His multifaceted background positions him uniquely for his new role, which will see him contributing to the Office of Government and Community Engagement.

In his capacity as Associate Vice Chancellor, Shendo will play a key role in fostering connections with tribal governments and communities across Colorado. His duties extend beyond the campus, involving collaboration with state and federal entities on matters pertaining to tribal affairs and higher education.

Shendo stated in a news release, “I cannot wait to get started in this new role at CU Boulder to strengthen our relationships with the tribes of Colorado and those historically connected to Colorado and to build a strong, supportive Native American community on campus for our students, faculty, and staff.”

Shendo is poised to assume his full-time position at CU Boulder on March 1, a move that necessitates his departure from the state senate. His decision to transition into this role underlines his dedication to advancing Native American initiatives within the realm of higher education.

Chancellor DiStefano highlighted Shendo’s appointment, saying in a news release, “We are delighted to welcome Benny Shendo back to the CU Boulder community,” adding, “His wealth of experience and commitment to Native American affairs will undoubtedly contribute to the university’s ongoing efforts to create an inclusive and culturally rich environment.”

Shendo was first elected in 2012 and currently chairs the powerful Senate Tax, Business & Transportation Committee.

New Mexico InDepth reported, “‘We’re trying to work out the details’ of the University of Colorado job, Shendo said, mentioning there was a possibility he could work from his home in New Mexico.”

Gov. Lujan Grisham tests positive for COVID-19 for third time

In an unexpected turn of events, the Office of Democrat Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham confirmed Monday in a press release that the governor has tested positive for COVID-19. The statement noted that Governor Lujan Grisham is currently “experiencing some minimal symptoms.”

The Governor’s office told the public that she is in good spirits despite the mild symptoms.

For the remainder of the week, Governor Lujan Grisham will be carrying out her duties remotely.

The press release did not provide specific details about where or how the governor may have contracted the virus. 

Governor Lujan Grisham’s positive test result also raises questions about potential impacts on the state’s governance, though the remote work arrangement is designed to ensure continuity in decision-making processes.

Lujan Grisham previously tested positive for the virus in August of 2022 and in November of 2022.

Abortion trafficking banned in county bordering New Mexico

In a groundbreaking decision, a Texas county along the New Mexico border has taken a bold stand by outlawing abortion and abortion trafficking. The move has sparked heated debates and drawn attention from both supporters and critics.

Cochran County’s decision, aimed at protecting the sanctity of life and family values, is already making waves. Local authorities argue that it aligns with their commitment to uphold traditional principles, echoing the sentiments of one official who emphasized, “We believe in safeguarding the rights of the unborn.”

Pro-abortion extremists claim the move violates “reproductive” rights despite abortions ending the reproductive process. 

As the nation watches, the Texas-New Mexico border county has become a focal point in the ongoing battle over abortion. The ban not only covers abortion procedures but also includes measures against abortion trafficking, adding a layer of complexity to the debate.

Proponents hail this as a bold step towards preserving conservative values, while opponents view it as a potential powder keg for legal challenges. The county’s decision is expected to fuel the already intense national conversation on reproductive rights and may set a precedent for similar measures in other regions.

In March, far-left New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed a law prohibiting local municipalities from “denying, restricting, or discriminating against an individual’s right to use or refuse reproductive health care.”

“Dickson pointed out that Roosevelt and [Lea] counties in New Mexico, which abut Cochran County, have taken the measures they can to ‘push back against the abortion industry,’” The Texan reported

The Texas county has marked a pivotal step in the fight for the right to life, and the move will likely save babies’ lives by halting abortion trafficking into New Mexico, which is an abortion up-to-birth state, per a far-left law passed in 2021 that garnered bipartisan opposition.

Unhinged NM Dem Party equates Republicans with domestic terrorists

The New Mexico Democrat Party (DPNM), in its latest attack on Republicans, equated members of the GOP to domestic terrorists in a recent statement released three days following an altercation in northern New Mexico where anti-Don Juan de Oñate demonstrators clashed with a man who was wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat. 

A longtime Oñate statue was set to return to Rio Arriba County this year after it was removed following the 2020 George Floyd Antifa riots targeting statues and historical sites. Anti-Hispanic hate groups, including The Red Nation, have attacked Hispanic history and culture by cloaking their protests in supposed care for Native American traditions. These fringe groups, such as The Red Nation, originate out of state.

After a video showed him being pursued by a crowd of anti-Hispanic protesters, the man shot one person. Strangely, in his mugshot, the man was allowed to wear his MAGA hat — something likely done as a political message to attempt to show Republicans as accused criminals.

DPNM, which Jessica Vasquez chairs, wrote in the bloviated statement, “To learn from the past & continually work toward becoming a more just & equitable society, we must remember history as it was, including the colonial injustices & atrocities that are a sad part of New Mexico’s history.”

In the attempt at equating all Republicans to the shooter, DPNM continued, “The aggressor of this horrendous act was a right-wing extremist wearing a ‘Make America Great Again’ hat. After this event, & so many others that have terrorized our country, it is our duty to call the MAGA movement what it is: a radical movement that has emboldened the most heinous extremists in our country to commit acts of politically-motivated (sic) violence.” 

It added, “The Republican Party remains spinelessly complacent in condoning political violence as extremists have infiltrated & taken over their party. We will continue to do everything we can to keep them & their MAGA leader, Donald Trump, out of public office.”

The Democrat Party has long embraced and inflamed political violence, including in its fight against slavery, in its opposition to the Civil Rights Movement, in its support for the George Floyd/Antifa riots, and even most recently on Capitol Hill, where a Democrat congressman pulled a fire alarm to attempt to halt a vote to avert a government shutdown. 

Dems blasted in court over ‘extreme’ partisan gerrymandered U.S. House maps

Political scientist Sean Trende has leveled accusations of “extreme” partisan gerrymandering against New Mexico Democrats, alleging that recent redistricting efforts unfairly benefited the Democratic Party. The claims surfaced during the second and final day of a bench trial on the GOP’s lawsuit challenging the process behind the new congressional map, redrawn in response to the 2020 Census.

The GOP argues that the redistricting maneuver, ostensibly aimed at adjusting borders to reflect changes in population, was designed to diminish Republican influence in the state. The trial concluded with closing arguments, and Judge Fred Van Soelen is expected to render a verdict by October 6, potentially impacting the congressional map ahead of the 2024 election.

Republicans attribute the redistricting to their loss of the Second Congressional District in 2022, where Democrat Gabe Vasquez defeated GOP incumbent Yvette Herrell. In the event of a favorable verdict, plaintiffs are urging the court to find a resolution, potentially leading to a redrawn congressional map before the 2024 elections.

The trial also saw subpoenas filed by Republicans seeking testimony from Democrat lawmakers, including Senate leaders Peter Wirth and Mimi Stewart, Sen. Joseph Cervantes, and former Speaker of the House Brian Egolf. However, none of the legislators appeared in court, prompting arguments about legislative immunity. While Van Soelen ruled that lawmakers were protected from testifying about the legislative process, he allowed the admission of text messages and emails into evidence.

Jowei Chen, an associate professor of political science at the University of Michigan, testified on behalf of the defense, analyzing the new districts through 1,000 “partisan blind” simulations. Chen argued that the districts created by Senate Bill 1 were not extreme in their political characteristics and could have emerged from a non-partisan map-drawing process. He also noted efforts to prevent any district from having over 60 percent of New Mexico’s oil wells, a condition given by the defense to replicate the SB 1 map approved by lawmakers.

Chen’s testimony faced scrutiny from the plaintiffs, who argued that the division of the oil and gas industry diluted its influence. While Chen acknowledged that he had never been asked to split up an industry in his career, he stated that he was informed by the defense that it was a policy consideration.

Sean Trende, another political analyst, supported the GOP’s claims during his testimony. He argued that the new districts were strategically designed to shift Republican voters out of the Second District and create majorities in all three districts, aiming to “punish Republicans” and entrench Democratic advantages.

Trende’s methodology came under attack during cross-examination, with the defense challenging the admissibility of his data. Trende admitted that the original maps could not be precisely replicated but maintained that his simulations were politically neutral. The trial also featured Brian Sanderoff, president of Research and Polling Inc., who testified that the redistricting process made districts more competitive.

The verdict in the case will show if the heavily gerrymandered districts, which shifted the Second District from an R+14 to a D+4 (an 18-point swing) will hold up for the far-left Democrats.

Trial begins for lawsuit over Dems’ gerrymandered U.S. House map

The trial over accusations of partisan gerrymandering by the far-left Democrat-controlled Legislature commenced on Wednesday, adding fuel to the ongoing national debate on redistricting. The focus is on New Mexico’s Second District, a crucial battleground that has swung between parties in the past three elections and holds significance in the Republicans’ efforts to maintain their majority in the U.S. House of Representatives in 2024.

The Republican Party contends that the new map, orchestrated by Democrats, deviates from established redistricting norms by dividing communities to gain a political advantage. They argue that this deliberate manipulation aims to diminish the conservative voice in southeastern New Mexico, an oil-producing stronghold, by splitting it among three congressional districts favoring Democrats. 

During the redistricting process, New Mexicans from across the state gave input to the Legislature through meetings held by the state’s Citizens Redistricting Committee. All the recommendations from the committee were tossed out for an extremely partisan gerrymandered map that chopped up Republican areas of the state into districts that have been Democrat strongholds in an attempt at swinging the Second District to favor progressive Democrat candidates.

During the trial, Republican attorneys presented evidence, including text messages from a top Democratic legislator, suggesting flagrant gerrymandering tactics. State Rep. James Townsend (R-Artesia), a retired oil pipeline supervisor and former state House minority leader, testified that the intent was to secure Democrat victories in these districts, marginalizing Republican lawmakers from the process.

In response, Democratic lawmakers erroneously claimed that the redistricting was conducted diligently, ensuring more competitive districts reflective of population shifts, with considerations for Native American communities. Richard Olson, an attorney for the Democrat-led Legislature, argues that the Second District remains competitive, and Republicans will struggle to prove intentional entrenchment of Democratic politicians, despite obvious evidence in the contrary.

The trial in Lovington is expected to last three days, with the New Mexico Supreme Court granting the state district judge until October 6th to reach a decision. With the 2024 elections looming, the judiciary is working against time to implement potential changes. Despite challenges, the court affirmed its duty to protect the right to vote as a fundamental democratic mechanism, emphasizing the importance of addressing gerrymandering concerns.

While Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham is not defending the contested map, citing other legal priorities, the trial underscores the intense political struggle over redistricting, a process critical to shaping the future of representation in the United States.

NM Supreme Court orders governor’s response to GOP’s lawsuit

On Tuesday, the New Mexico Supreme Court, which is comprised of mostly appointees of Democrat Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, ordered the governor to respond to a lawsuit lodged against her by all Republican members of the state Legislature, the Republican Party of New Mexico, National Rifle Association, among others, relating to her emergency powers.

The lawsuit came following Lujan Grisham’s unconstitutional order saying that she was “suspending” all Bernalillo County residents’ constitutional rights by banning them from open or concealed carrying for 30 days under the guise of a “public health emergency.” During the announcement, the governor claimed that no rights are “absolute” and that her oath of office isn’t absolute either. 

The Court wrote in the order, “WHEREAS, this matter came on for consideration upon the Court’s own motion to request a response to the verified petition for extraordinary writ and request for stay, and the Court being sufficiently advised, Chief Justice C. Shannon Bacon, Justice Michael E. Vigil, Justice David K. Thomson, Justice Julie J. Vargas, and Justice Briana H. Zamora concurring … that a response shall be timely if filed on or before October 16, 2023.” 

Since the lawsuit challenges the governor’s executive authority, the response time appears to be a chance to give her as much time as possible to formulate a defense of flagrantly abusing her powers. 

“We are thankful for the resounding support we have received throughout New Mexico as we are standing up and defending our American freedoms,” said House Minority Leader Ryan Lane (R-Aztec), announcing the lawsuit earlier this month. 

“We are filing in the New Mexico Supreme Court to continue the fight to defend our constitutional rights. We cannot allow one political stunt to undermine a document that guarantees our rights and has been a beacon of hope for so many globally. We are confident that our State Supreme Court will expedite this request and make certain our fundamental freedoms still hold strong and are upheld.”

He added, “From day one, we have made it clear that action on crime should be taken up with the Legislature and not played out on national media under a stunt that was destined to fail. We will continue to push the practical and commonsense crime reforms that we know will work in New Mexico to help save lives. We look forward to robust debate on our legislation, instead of the silencing of these topics, as now the world is watching how we solve the crime problems plaguing our communities.”

Senate Minority Leader Greg Baca (R-Belen) wrote, “Our fight is not over,” adding, “We intend to ensure that the temporary restraining order becomes permanent injunctive relief. We will not let up the pressure until we ensure no New Mexican is subjected to the removal of their rights through executive order ever again.”

Juan de Oñate statue returning to Rio Arriba County

The statue of Juan de Oñate, a figure entangled in the complexities of New Mexico’s history, is set to return to the Rio Arriba County Complex on September 28, 2023, in a ceremony slated to begin at 10 a.m.

Residents from the community have been invited to witness the statue’s reinstallation, with hopes that the event will proceed peacefully and without incident. The county office, situated on Industrial Park Road, will be the statue’s new home.

The Rio Arriba County Commissioners have made the decision to reinstall the statue, and Chairman Alex Naranjo has expressed that most individuals he’s spoken with are generally supportive of its return.

The statue, commissioned in 1990 or possibly 1989 for $100,000 from sculptor Sonny Rivera by the Rio Arriba County Commission, was removed in June 2020. This removal followed credible threats and assaults on other statues created by the same sculptor, including the Soldiers Monument in the Santa Fe Plaza. Interestingly, Alex Naranjo’s uncle, Emilio, led the effort to construct and erect the statue.

Throughout the 1990s, the United States witnessed controversies surrounding statues dedicated to historical figures, with many of these statues being defaced, destroyed, or removed due to protests. Even sculptures honoring famous Civil War generals were not spared from this turmoil. In late 1997, vandals removed the left foot of the Oñate statue, resulting in estimated repair costs of $10,000. Oñate has been accused of ordering the removal of the left foot from any man over the age of 25, according to the Office of the New Mexican State Historian. Some websites also accuse him of “sentencing hundreds of people to 20 years of ‘personal servitude.'”

This defacement of the sculpture was a protest against Oñate’s role in the 1599 Acoma Massacre. The year prior, in 1598, 12 Spanish soldiers were killed in a battle between Spanish colonizers and Native Americans. Oñate’s nephew and soldier, Juan de Zaldivar, lost his life in the conflict while attempting to meet with Acoma leaders.

Juan de Oñate served as the colonial governor of the province of Santa Fe de Nuevo, Mexico and ordered a retaliatory strike against the Acoma Pueblo in 1599.

The larger-than-life Juan de Oñate bronze sculpture, depicting New Mexico’s first Spanish colonial governor mounted on a horse, holds a unique place in the emotions and opinions of the people of northern New Mexico. Its significance and impact on various communities are intertwined with Juan de Oñate’s historical role.

Juan de Oñate, originally from Zacatecas, Mexico, was the son of a prominent owner of silver mines in central Mexico. In 1598, suspecting the existence of additional precious metal reserves to the north, he financed and led a lengthy caravan of soldiers, missionaries, civilians, and livestock through the deserts of northern Mexico and into Pueblo country. The Tewa people of Ohkay Owingeh, described as “gentlemanly” by the Spanish, vacated Yunque Yunque, an Ohkay Owingeh pueblo complex on the west side of the Rio Grande, offering it to Oñate and his party as a place of shelter upon their arrival.

They remained there for several years until the capital of the newly claimed “Kingdom of la Nueva Mexico” was moved to Santa Fe. Oñate’s penetration into Pueblo Indian territory and the establishment of the first Spanish Mexican colony led many Indo-Hispano individuals in northern New Mexico to regard Oñate as a hero and significant leader.

However, it is worth noting that the ordinary Indo-Hispano person had little knowledge of Oñate or his colony until Anglo historians, archaeologists, and anthropologists working in Santa Fe during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries meticulously analyzed Spanish colonial archives across two continents. Their findings, published revelations, and interpretations significantly impacted the understanding of both Native and Indo-Hispano history and history combined.

The world’s largest equestrian bronze statue of Oñate remains in El Paso, Texas, where the Spanish colonial governor is responsible for naming the city El Paso del Norte. He was the founder of the Camino Real (Royal Highway) and the Hispanic Southwest in 1598.

Edgewood’s battle for pro-life ordinance takes unusual turn

Edgewood voters will not vote on a pro-life ordinance in November. The petition-driven initiative to overturn the ordinance by extremist pro-abortion activists, which the town commission approved in April, will not appear on the local election ballot, as anticipated.

Santa Fe County Clerk Katharine Clark informed Edgewood’s town manager, Nina McCracken, in a brief letter earlier this month that her office regards the issue as a non-binding “advisory question,” rendering it ineligible for the November 7 ballot.

McCracken clarified that the ordinance is temporarily on hold due to the petition. She explained, “The next election at which the ordinance can be considered would be in February if the commission calls for a special election.” McCracken emphasized the town’s commitment to supporting the voice of the people.

According to the Secretary of State’s Office, this decision aligns with the direction given by the Secretary of State, as the issue is categorized as an advisory question, making it unsuitable for the ballot, claiming it has no legal weight.

Notably, no local abortion-related ordinances will appear on any New Mexico ballots. Instead, the ongoing dispute between some local governments and the state over the provision of abortion services will be settled in the courtroom this December.

The state Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments on December 13 in a case that seeks to determine the impact of a recent law that codified a woman’s right to reproductive health services, including abortion, on local municipalities that pass ordinances contrary to this law.

The case is between New Mexico Attorney General Raúl Torrez’s office and the counties of Lea and Roosevelt, as well as the cities of Hobbs and Clovis, which have passed pro-life ordinances despite the state law legalizing abortion.

At this point, Edgewood is not directly involved in this legal battle. Solicitor General Aletheia Allen from Torrez’s office suggested that all parties are waiting to see the outcome of the Supreme Court’s ruling before initiating any legal action regarding the Edgewood issue.

The Edgewood ordinance, approved by the commission in April, aims to ban access to abortion pills and enables individuals to file lawsuits against those who violate this prohibition, subjecting the defendant to a minimum fine of $100,000. The ordinance is based on the federal Comstock Act, not state or local statutes.

While the issue may not be on the November ballot, it remains a topic of considerable significance in the ongoing debate surrounding abortion and local governance.

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