Three days after the Supreme Court rejected new state House of Representative districts favored by the governor, allies of Susana Martinez yesterday filed a complaint about the ruling to federal court.
The initial High Court ruling remanded the case back to retired District Judge James Hall, instructing him to draw new maps by Feb. 27. In January, Hall chose the executive House redistricting over the plan passed by the Democratically-controlled Legislature. In his reasoning, he said the executive plan had less population changes, or deviation, aligning more with the federal requirement of one-person, one-vote.
But the High Court found the map to show partisan bias by increasing Republican swing districts by three seats and Republican-leaning districts by three seats. The Court also said it was OK for Hall to draw districts with higher deviations to protect "communities of interest" to meet clauses in the Federal Voting Rights Act. The ruling ordered for Clovis, for instance, to be drawn to accommodate a Hispanic-majority voting age population.
Yesterday's complaint, which comes from plaintiffs describing themselves as prospective state House candidates, dismissed those sentiments.
"A State District Court has drawn a lawful redistricting plan," the complaint reads. "The Supreme Court of the State of New Mexico, however ... remanded the District Court's decision with instructions that can only result in a plan that will violate the one person, one vote Constitutional mandate."
The complaint calls for a three-judge federal panel to rule the Supreme Court ruling unconstitutional and draw up new districts. It could also delay any action from Hall to draw new maps.
"My strong hope is that's not the case," John Wertheim, a lawyer representing the Democrats in redistricting, tells SFR. "Hall has to be able to finish his work."
Read the complaint: