The Governor of New Mexico, Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham, could actually face removal from office. This is remarkable, even astounding, considering that she enjoys comfortable majorities in her State’s legislature. So how could anyone even think that a legislature might remove a sitting governor belonging to the party that controls both its chambers? The answer goes to the weakest issue that separates Democrats from Republicans: gun control.
Current balance of power in New Mexico
To understand just how bizarre is the situation in which Gov. Grisham finds herself, consider the makeup of the legislature. Like most State legislatures, New Mexico’s is bicameral – that is, it has two branches, one more numerous than the other. The smaller branch – the Senate – has forty-two members, and the larger – the House – has seventy. At present, Democrats own twenty-seven Senate seats and forty-five House seats; Republicans own the rest. This gives Democrats over 64 percent of the Senate and the House.
Impeachment requires a simple majority of the House. Conviction, and possible removal from office, requires two-thirds of the Senate. That equates to 36 House members and 28 Senators. State Reps. John Block and Stefani Lord, who seek to impeach Gov. Grisham, know they must persuade at least 11 Democrats and 16 Senators. To be safe, they hope to persuade 12 Democrats in the House – and aren’t yet talking about how many Democratic Senators they need to flip.
So how do they propose to persuade that many Representatives and Senators? Why would they even think they could? True enough, they could simply settle for embarrassing the Senate by bringing an impeachment action even if it fails. But how could they even think they could get an impeachment article through the House?
Simple. Michelle Lujan Grisham has done something so outlandish that nearly every top Democrat in the State thinks she’s crazy.
What has Grisham done?
More than two weeks ago (September 8), Gov. Grisham and her Secretary of Health, Patrick Allen, presumed to suspend the Second Amendment by declaring it deleterious to the public health. The Governor issued an executive order, and the SecHealth a public health order, suspending the open or concealed carrying of firearms on all public properties, even public streets, except:
- By law-enforcement officers and licensed security guards, or:
- Under lock and key to make them inoperable in transit.
The only spaces in which these orders would allow anyone to have firearms were:
- One’s own home,
- A gun shop for the purpose of immediate sale, return, or repair,
- A licensed firing range, or
- One’s own automobile on a public street or road, if fitted with a proper gun lock.
This order applies only to jurisdictions, typically municipal, that meet a threshold of loss of innocent life to firearms. Only Albuquerque, in Bernalillo County, currently qualifies. But two parts of the order apply State-wide:
- Regular inspections of firearms dealers, and
- Reporting of gun casualties from the State’s emergency rooms.
Of the journalists who interviewed Gov. Grisham at her press conference,
almost none expressed full sympathy. Even left-wing journalists asked, in so many words:
Whiskey Tango Foxtrot do you think you’re doing, Governor? Whiskey Tango Foxtrot do you, in your four and three-quarters distinguished years as Governor of this State, mean by issuing such a tyrannical and obviously not-thought-out-at-all executive and public health order? Don’t you see that what you are doing is unconstitutional? Don’t you in your infinite wisdom see that you stand in direct violation of the ruling of the United States Supreme Court in New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen, and that if the District Court doesn’t enjoin you, the Supreme Court will remand the case to that Court to make sure it does?
But this brazen Governor insisted that “an emergency” gives her the authority to override the Constitution. She actually said that neither the Constitution nor even her Oath of Office was absolute!
How have officials reacted?
In rejoinder, the Mayor and Chief of Police of Albuquerque, the Sheriff and District Attorney of Bernalillo County, and even the Attorney General of New Mexico, all of whom are Democrats, shot back in effect:
We never signed on for this, and we want no part of this!
What they might not want any part of, is the wrath of the voters. New Mexico is not New York State. In fact, even Albuquerque is not New York City. Lots of residents, even Democrats, own guns. Many of the paraded in the Old Town District of Albuquerque after the order came down. They carried their loaded guns – holstered, but still loaded – openly, as if to say, “Arrest us!” Albuquerque Police, looking on, made no arrests.
Some of those gun owners did sue in the U.S. District Court for New Mexico, seeking to enjoin the order. The assignment judge assigned the case to one David M. Urias – a Biden appointee. Incredibly, Judge Urias issued a Temporary Restraining Order – and he specifically cited the Bruen case as his authority to act. After the TRO came down, Grisham modified her orders to apply only to public parks and playgrounds where children gather. Therefore the gun-lock orders on public streets and roads do not currently apply.
A move to impeach Grisham
In the meantime, two State Representatives, Stefani Lord (R-Sandia Park) and John Block (R-Alamagordo), have filed an Article of Impeachment.
In a telephone interview with Just the News, Rep. Block expressed confidence that an Article of Impeachment would pass. He did not express the same confidence in conviction.
Once we get in session, we would need to flip 12 Democrats to our side, which I think is doable.In the Senate we would need a two-thirds vote.
Technically Block and Lord need 11 State House Democrats, if they could count on all Republicans. Perhaps they want a safety margin.
Under any other circumstances, trying to get those 12 Democrats would be futile. But again, Gov. Grisham appears to be nearly friendless. The Sheriff of Bernalillo County refuses to arrest anyone under the order, and the District Attorney refuses to prosecute. Likewise, the Mayor and Chief of Police of Albuquerque declared the order unenforceable in their city. (We haven’t yet heard from the chief of New Mexico’s State Police.) And the Attorney General of Mexico refuses even to defend the State in any lawsuit contesting the order’s constitutionality.
Add to it that a Biden appointee on the federal bench has issued a Temporary Restraining Order, and scheduled a hearing for a preliminary injunction. TROs and preliminary injunctions are notoriously hard to get. But Judge Urias clearly said he found Grisham in violation of the Constitution. Therefore a TRO is in the public interest.
Possible grounds for impeachment
Other X users have pointed out other reasons why these orders would be impeachable. Apart from Bruen is Ex parte Milligan, 71 US 2 (1866). That case, arising after the War Between the States, concerned trying civilians in military tribunals. The Supreme Court held that, if civilian courts were available, a civilian had the right to face trial there. More broadly, the Court held that even the most dire emergencies do not suffice to suspend Constitutional rights.
Moreover another user cited Title 18 U.S.C. § 242, “Deprivation of Rights under Color of Law.”
Specifically: Grisham admitted during her press conference that criminals would never abide by the order. Therefore what she did constituted selective application of the law.
All of this adds up to an extreme, even bizarre measure. Of course it also logically expresses the endgame that many Democrats secretly desire, i.e., that no person, except:
- A law-enforcement officer,
- An active-duty military service member,
- A Very Important Person, or
- One licensed to guard the person or real or personal property of another (“security guard,” “bodyguard,” etc.),
shall own, carry, or so much as touch, much less discharge, a firearm. The law in New York State came closest to this regime – before the Supreme Court struck it down. Ever since then, the Governor and Attorney General of New York have sought to circumvent, or flout, the strikedown.
This is the wrong State, Gov. Grisham!
But New York is New York (State or City), and New Mexico is New Mexico. And in New Mexico, the Republicans have reacted in an outrage one can readily predict. But the Democrats have reacted in horror. Those Democrat officials are saying of Gov. Grisham, in effect, “The idiot will ruin everything!” In other words, the challenge to the Second Amendment of the Constitution wasn’t supposed to happen in New Mexico. Let it happen in New York City and State, and in California. (It already is happening in California. Witness California applying for an Article V Convention of States for proposing an amendment to supersede the Second.) In New Mexico, the people won’t stand for it! As we have seen. “Arrest us!” said the gun owners of New Mexico, congregating in Albuquerque. And the police didn’t.
So Reps. Lord and Block have reason to be confident of persuading twelve Democrats to vote to impeach Gov. Grisham. An Attorney General, a District Attorney, a Sheriff, and even a Mayor have given such Democrats “cover.” More than cover, in fact. By refusing to enforce the order, they have said, in effect, “Governor, you’re crazy! And you’re on your own.” Not even a common Party affiliation has availed this Governor in issuing such a blatantly unconstitutional order.
So, we’ll see whether 12 Democrats – or in any event, enough Democrats – vote to impeach. Then we’ll see what happens in the New Mexico Senate – where Republicans will need 16 or 17 “defectors.” This is much more, both in absolute and in proportional terms. So this is also a test of our Constitution, and of certain people’s respect for it. That such a test should come in New Mexico is probably inevitable. Perhaps only in New Mexico would anyone have reason to expect a positive result. Results have been positive thus far, so again, we shall see.
Terry A. Hurlbut has been a student of politics, philosophy, and science for more than 35 years. He is a graduate of Yale College and has served as a physician-level laboratory administrator in a 250-bed community hospital. He also is a serious student of the Bible, is conversant in its two primary original languages, and has followed the creation-science movement closely since 1993.
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