On Tuesday, it was reported that three fraternal organizations, New Mexico Elks Association, the New Mexico Aerie of the Brotherhood of Eagles, and the New Mexico Loyal Order of the Moose, are suing Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and her health secretary Dr. Tracie Collins over lockdown orders that have shuttered the organizations’ operations.
The groups argue that “the state has acted arbitrarily and capriciously by requiring their lodges to remain closed while establishments offering similar services — such golf courses and country clubs, gyms and restaurants — have been allowed to reopen under capacity limits and guidance for public health,” according to the Las Cruces Sun-News.
In the complaint, they write that they “can implement the same safety precautions, policies and procedures that similar organizations were able to implement in order to resume organizational operations.”
The groups, which are nonprofit organizations, operate numerous lodges (aeries) across New Mexico. However, since March 2020, the Governor and her health orders have kept them closed without the opportunity for reopening.
The lawsuit alleges the orders “violate their due process rights, the right to equal protection under the law and the First Amendment right to peaceful assembly,” the Sun reports. “The organizations are seeking a temporary restraining order preventing enforcement, a declaratory judgment on the orders’ constitutionality, unspecified compensatory and punitive damages and court costs.”
The Department of Health and Gov. Lujan Grisham’s office declined requests for comment due to the pending litigation.
The New Mexico Elks has over 8,000 members in New Mexico from 22 different lodges. It is unclear how many members and lodges the Eagles run, although nationally, the group has 800,000 members and more than 1,500 locations. The Loyal Order of the Moose does not list how many members or locations are in New Mexico, but internationally the group has 650,000 members and roughly 1,600 lodges.