“The district court correctly found that plaintiffs failed to prove that Senate Bill 1 entrenches the Democratic party in power,” said Sara Sanchez, attorney for the defendants.
In front of the state Supreme Court, it was attorneys for Democratic lawmakers Monday defending a district court decision aimed at keeping redistricted voting maps.
In October, a district court judge said the redrawn voting boundaries diluted Republican votes by moving more Democrats into Congressional District 2.
However, the judge said the change did not rise to the level of an “egregious gerrymander.” Now, it’s up to the state supreme court to decide.
In oral arguments Monday, the Republican party said the new districts still give Democrats an unfair chance at winning elections. Justices questioned the GOP’s attorney over the district court not finding that the democratic party tried to “entrench” itself in power.
“The judge seemed to say they tried to find entrenchment. They had the intent; they just didn’t do it,” said New Mexico Supreme Court Justice David Thomson.
Carter Harrison, the New Mexico GOP Attorney replied, “If we go specifically to the issue of entrenchment, what we would say is that the district court erred as a matter of law first, in applying that as a separate and independent analysis.”
The district court ruled that last year’s race between Democrat Gabe Vasquez and incumbent Republican Yvette Herrell was a competitive race. Attorneys for state lawmakers were questioned Monday over the intent behind maps and the idea of diluting Republican power.
“Is there not enough dilution? Is that what the district court was saying,” said New Mexico Supreme Court Justice Julie Vargas.
Sanchez replied, “The district court did find substantial dilution, but what we have to look at is what is the outcome of that substantial dilution? And when the outcome is, as it is here, a highly competitive district that either party can win, that is not entrenchment.”
The justices did not mention when they will announce their decision, only remarking that they would have something “as soon as we can.”
So far, the 2024 election is expected to use the same Congressional district maps once again as the ones that were used in 2022.