NM Supreme Court rules in favor of Governor’s $5,000 fine against business operating against public health orders


Tuesday’s New Mexico Supreme Court decision was yet another setback to our local restaurants, but there are still several other important ongoing legal efforts in development.

Here’s what we’ve been able to put together regarding yesterday’s decision by the New Mexico Supreme Court in a case filed by the Governor against the Ninth Judicial District and a group of business owners.

After listening to oral arguments by both sides and deliberating for about an hour, the Court concluded that the Legislature has given Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham the authority to issue civil penalties for violations of emergency public health orders that limit mass gatherings and require business closures. Chief Justice Michael Vigil announced the NM Supreme Court’s Decision. Republican Party Chairman Steve Pearce offered a rebuttal by urging voters to seek change in November by voting in candidates who will protect rights.

The New Mexico Supreme Court declined to issue a writ as to whether the state is required to pay back businesses for being closed. Attorneys for the business owners had asked the court to declare the closures a “taking” – when a government seizes property for public use and determines the plaintiffs were owed damages for lost revenues. That issue may go back to the 9th Judicial District Court in Clovis.

There are also at least two other related lawsuits pending. In July, the New Mexico Restaurant Association and other businesses filed a lawsuit in Carlsbad claiming that the governor was unfairly targeting certain industries. A temporary restraining order was granted by a Carlsbad District Court Judge saying the order forcing restaurants to close did not have to be enforced until July 30, but the New Mexico Supreme Court paused that decision a few hours later, leaving indoor dining closed. Legal briefs have been filed for this case, but the state Supreme Court has yet to indicate whether it will hear this case. New Mexico Supreme Court Chief Justice Michael Vigil has recused himself from this issue.

Also, on July 27, the New Mexico Restaurant association filed another lawsuit against Gov. Michele Lujan Grisham’s administration, saying they have the right to get raw COVID-19 data from the New Mexico Department of Health.

In the meantime, please continue to support our local restaurants and small businesses in every way possible. Many of them are continuing to add patios and pavilions in order to try to stay in business.

From the office of Mayor Dale Janway

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