The Great Gipper, President Ronald Reagan, reminded Americans, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.” And folks are preparing for that battle in oil and gas country.
Months of frustration with a state government seemingly gone rogue in the Land of Enchantment has led citizens to band together and take on what they deem to be tyrannical and unconstitutional overreach. New Mexico’s Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver and Attorney General Hector Balderas, both Democrats, are in the hot seat for allegedly refusing citizens their “constitutional right” to petition for referenda on state legislation.
The newly formed New Mexico Patriots Advocacy Coalition (NMPAC) has filed a lawsuit against the government officials for “injunctive relief” over a series of laws adopted during the state’s 2019 legislative session.
NMPAC president Mike Hobbs set out his case at a rally to open the annual Connie Mack Baseball World Series in Farmington:
“Friends, we are at the crest of the constitutional hill in New Mexico. Finally. The New Mexico Patriots are commencing suit against our erstwhile secretary of state in her dubious and legally questionable denials of our legitimate petitions for adherence to our state and national constitutions.”
A spokesperson from Balderas’ office called the lawsuit “frivolous,” while Toulouse Oliver stated that she is confident of being in the right and that she has “undertaken careful and considered reviews of all referendum petitions submitted.”
In order to apply for referenda on radically progressive decisions – including strident anti-Second Amendment and anti-rural rights laws – imposed by the Democrat administration, citizens’ groups presented ten letters to Toulouse Oliver and Balderas for authorization to gather petition signatures. The legislation that the groups want submitted for petition and public vote include:
- Background checks for private firearms sales.
- Raising the minimum wage.
- Enacting wildlife corridors.
- Enacting the agreement Elect the President by Popular Vote.
- Pre-empting local government right-to-work ordinances.
- Adopting NM Green New Deal.
- Allowing voter registration during early voting.
- Reporting of independent campaign expenditures.
- Red flag firearm confiscation.
- Prohibiting coyote hunting contests.
Each letter of request to petition has been denied for “health, peace, and safety reasons” of the public. But here’s the rub: Every single piece of legislation passed in New Mexico seems to fall under this purview.
The New Mexico Constitution, Article IV, Sec. 1, defines the legal rights of citizens to petition. Note the exceptions:
“The people reserve the power to disapprove, suspend and annul any law enacted by the legislature, except general appropriation laws; laws providing for the preservation of the public peace, health or safety; for the payment of the public debt or interest thereon, or the creation or funding of the same, except as in this constitution otherwise provided; for the maintenance of the public schools or state institutions, and local or special laws.”
What is left?
Fighting Fire with Firepower
The repeated denials brought several groups of New Mexicans – from all parts of the state – to form a legal and duly registered advocacy group and to seek legal consult. They hired A. Blair Dunn, a man with a legacy of public service handed down from his father and grandfather to the people of the state. Dunn has a reputation of taking on the longshot odds to hold the government accountable.
In the six-page lawsuit, Dunn requests a judicial authorization for citizens to circulate the petitions and gather signatures in an attempt to repeal the ten laws passed in 2019.
Liberty Nation asked Dunn about the likely outcome of the case.
“The SOS and AG are not incorrect in their interpretation of New Mexico Constitution, Article IV, Sec. 1. But pieces of legislation are unconstitutional. There is little to no way to correct this in the legislature right now, and that is why we are appealing to the courts,” he said.
“We’re prepared to be denied. And then we’ll appeal to the New Mexico Supreme Court and the US Supreme Court. What an absurd idea that people cannot petition their government.”
The court system in New Mexico is packed with liberal-minded jurists, and the Supreme Court of New Mexico is heavily loaded with progressive judges by a ratio of four-to-one.
Unconstitutional Gun Laws in NM?
The second part of the NMPAC lawsuit further complains that two recently passed gun bills – Senate Bills 8 and 328 – are unconstitutional. Dunn claims Senate Bill 8 violates the right of New Mexicans to keep and bear arms by requiring unwieldy background checks; the law essentially interferes with private transactions, including inheritance and family transfers. Senate Bill 328, according to NMPAC, violates due process in requiring gun owners to surrender firearms if they are accused of a crime in violation of the Family Violence Protection Act – whether or not they have been convicted.
As the battle to uphold a government by the people and for the people heats up in the desert, another silent majority will be silent no more. During the rally, before America’s pastime commenced, NMPAC board member Jane Martin whipped the crowd into a frenzy. In Reaganesque fashion, she told the people, “If we don’t stand up and fight for our rights now, before long we will no longer have any rights.”