“Whenever fundamental rights are restricted, the Supreme Court and other courts cannot close their eyes,” Justice Alito said this month, rejecting the view that “whenever there is an emergency, executive officials have unlimited, unreviewable discretion.” (“Splitting 5 to 4, Supreme Court Backs Religious Challenge to Cuomo’s Virus Shutdown Order”)
NM Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s Emergency Powers
Michelle Lujan Grisham has never seen an emergency she let go to waste. From the earliest days of the COVID-19 pandemic, when the First Amendment rights of churches, mosques, and synagogues were suspended, to her most recent suspension of 2nd Amendment rights in Albuquerque and Bernalillo County, the Democrat Governor of New Mexico believed she had “unlimited, unreviewable discretion” just because she believes something an emergency.
U.S. District Court Judge David Urias said the governor’s 30-day suspension of concealed and open firearm carry rights in Albuquerque and its surrounding county went against a landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling that people had a right to carry a gun outside their homes for self defense.
NM Governor Issues Emergency Order Suspending 2nd Amendment Rights
On Friday, September 8, 2023, in response to the rise in violent crime in New Mexico’s largest city, including the tragic shooting death of an 11-year-old boy in Albuquerque on September 6, Lujan Grisham unilaterally issued a “public health order,” suspending open and conceal carry rights for 30-days in the city of Albuquerque and Bernalillo County.
Why now? What caused the Governor to take these drastic actions? Some more conspiratorially-minded folks saw this as a trial balloon for the restriction of gun rights nationally through an Executive Order issued by President Biden, declaring a “Gun Violence Emergency.” After all, most Americans don’t even know that New Mexico is a state, much less where our state is located geographically (between Texas and Arizona for those wondering). No one would notice a rogue Governor sending up a trial balloon to see how far it goes.
The Governor’s History of Using Public Health Orders
While I don’t discount this theory, I believe there is a much simpler explanation for Governor Lujan Grisham’s unilateral “public health order” suspending 2nd Amendment rights. She had used “public health orders” with great effect (although not with any real effectiveness) before during the pandemic. The Governor wielded executive power, ostensibly granted by the legislature to deal with true public health emergencies like the novel coronavirus, with a relish that only a petty tyrant can display. She just knew she could do whatever she wanted to do, without regard to the NM Constitution, the U.S. Constitution, the rule of law, or the people that she is supposed to represent.
Because New Mexico is a deep blue state, with Democrats easily controlling both the chambers of the state legislature, the judiciary, and statewide elected offices, there was no appreciable pushback against the Governor’s draconian lockdown policies during the COVID pandemic. These policies, which shuttered in-person learning at NM’s public schools for the better part of two years, hampered small businesses while giving preferential treatment to national big box stores, imposed mandatory mask mandates, and limited travel and social gatherings, crippled our state. But, not a peep from state Democrats.
Last November, Grisham was easily re-elected to a second term as Governor of the Land of Enchantment, despite her horrendous response to COVID. At least Gavin Newsome, who Grisham so wants to emulate, had the political savvy to “apologize” for how he handled the state’s response to the pandemic. Now, I don’t believe a word that he said, but he knows that this issue, at least on a national level, will come back to bite him when he decides to run for President.
The Governor Seeks the Limelight
Lujan Grisham desperately wants to be a key player on the national stage. A former Congressperson and twice-elected Governor of one of the nation’s least populated and most poverty-ridden states, Lujan Grisham was seriously considered for the VP spot that eventually went to Kamala Harris. If you think Harris is bad, you simply don’t know our Governor.
Despite all her shortcomings, the Governor has one thing going for her — an unbridled arrogance that knows no limits. She is always the smartest person in the room, talking to everyone else as if they were first graders. She loves to hear herself talk, as was evidenced by her weekly COVID updates during the height of the pandemic. Perhaps only second to Andrew Cuomo in levels of insipedness.
This week, many around the country were shocked at Lujan Grisham’s suspension of the 2nd Amendment. Even far-left Democrat Congressman Ted Lieu and gun-control activist David Hogg both called out the Governor for her unconstitutional order. When state Democrat elected officials began abandoning the Governor’s sinking ship and, when NM Attorney General Raul Torrez, a fellow Democrat, announced that he would not defend the Governor in court, surely Lujan Grisham would change course and admit she was wrong. Nope. Not a chance.
The Constitution and the Rule of Law
Despite being rebuked by the Federal court, Lujan Grisham continues to triple down on her unconstitutional power grab. This is who she is. This is who she has been. For those of us in New Mexico, we have been subjected to her arrogant reign for over four years. Left to her own devices, she would continue to trample the constitutional rights of the citizens of New Mexico, disregard her oath of office, and dare anyone to stop her.
Thankfully, the eyes of the nation were opened to the abuse of power by the Governor of New Mexico. And, thankfully, a Federal Judge followed the rule of law, striking down this unconstitutional order. In the end, the Constitution prevailed. Better late than never in the Land of Enchantment.