Capitol Report New Mexico has learned that Republicans allied with the administration of Gov. Susana Martinez will formally file an appeal in federal court on Monday (Feb. 13) over the New Mexico Supreme Court’s reversal of a House of Representatives redistricting map OK’d back on Jan. 3 by a retired judge the high court itself assigned to tackle the hydra-headed problem of re-apportioning districts for the next 10 years across the state. Democrats embraced the 4-1 ruling by the state Supreme Court to kick the House redistricting decision back to Judge Jim Hall, who adopted a map that was sponsored by attorneys for the Republican governor after hearing from attorneys from the Democratically-controlled legislature as well as a number of other lawyers representing various other political interests in New Mexico.
In the 33-page decision handed down Friday, four of the justices declared that Hall’s decision on House districts “was not politically neutral” because, the court said, Hall’s map increased Republican swing seats from five to eight and Republican-leaning districts from 31 to 34. The four justices also insisted that a specific district in Clovis needed to be made up of a Hispanic majority voting area. Even before the remand, supporters of the Martinez-sponsored map pointed out that the map Hall adopted created more Hispanic-voting age population districts than any other map before him. And one Republican said 10 years ago — in the last redistricting fight that also went to the trial — a redistricting judge adopted a House map that increased Democrat-leaning districts from 36 to 39.
Republicans in New Mexico have long grumbled about the state Supreme Court, which is packed with declared Democrats and on Friday, a spokesman for the governor called the ruling “a partisan decision.” Rep. Jimmie C. Hall (R-Albuquerque) was even more blunt. When asked if he felt the GOP feels it can’t get a fair shake from the high court, Hall replied, “Yes, very much so.” (You can click here to watch the video of Hall’s comments as well as those of Democrat Rep. Brian Egolf, who praised the decision.)