On Monday, the New Mexico Restaurant Association filed a response to a lawsuit that is now being heard by the New Mexico Supreme Court. Additionally, District Judge Ray Romero has filed a response saying that the case should remain within his court in Eddy County. The Governor’s office will have until Thursday to provide a response.
The NMRA is demanding that the state provide more data to back up its claim that indoor dining is leading to more COVID-19 cases. In its recent presentations, the state has said that its “rapid responses” have shown that a high percentage of COVID-19 cases can be traced to restaurants and indoor dining. The NMRA, however, claims the data is incomplete and is requesting that indoor dining again be allowed.
Eddy County has also filed what’s called a friend of the court brief in support of the NMRA. While Eddy County is not directly involved in this particular legal battle, it is offering information that may be of assistance in making a decision.
“This case ultimately comes down to one principle,” Eddy County submitted in its brief “’The accumulation of too much power within one branch poses a threat to liberty.’”
The county does not dispute the need for state action during an emergency, but argues that the form of that action taken by the state must be carefully examined. In this instance, the county argues that many components of the public health orders are beyond the state’s capacity to issue without following a formal rulemaking process, and that the Governor lacks the authority to create or change substantive law.
“Therefore, the Governor and Secretary of Health do not have the broad, self-executing powers, which they have exercised during this emergency,” Eddy County states, and then later adds. “Because the Governor and DOH acted without self-executing authority, and because they did not follow any valid, rulemaking process, the public health orders are unenforceable against the real parties in interest.”
Finally, Eddy County argues that the decision to impose the same indoor dining restrictions to all of New Mexico was arbitrary and capricious, in part due to the 110 degree weather in Carlsbad.
The City of Carlsbad has supported Eddy County with this effort, and we are grateful for our county commission’s leadership in making sure our restaurants and citizens are well represented. This is a very serious health issue that absolutely deserves a significant response, but the response also needs to remain fair and respect our system’s balance of power.
From the office of Carlsbad Mayor Dale Janway