State Supreme Court issues ruling on redistricting case

Nov. 27—The state Supreme Court affirmed a District Court judge's decision that said while Democratic lawmakers tried to dilute Republican voting power in one of the state's three congressional districts, their efforts did not equate to gerrymandering.

Pending a potential rehearing, Monday's ruling means the redistricted boundaries will remain in place.

The state's highest court issued a four-page decision on the case Monday morning, a week after it heard oral arguments on whether Senate Bill 1, approved in a special session in late 2021, was a deliberate Democratic effort to gerrymander the 2nd Congressional District to ensure Democrats would hold an advantage there.

The state Supreme Court decision affirms State District Judge Fred Van Soelen's October ruling by saying it was "supported by substantial evidence" and was not the result of any "legal error."

At stake is the political fate of the 2nd Congressional District, long a Republican stronghold. In the 2022 election, U.S. Rep. Gabe Vasquez, a Democrat from Las Cruces, beat Republican Yvette Herrell by about 1,300 votes after the district was reshaped to include portions of Albuquerque — and add about 40,000 additional Democratic voters to the district.

Herrell has said she plans to run again in 2024 to reclaim her seat.

A few days after Van Soelen ruled in favor of the Democratic defendants following a two-day bench trial in Lovington, the Republican plaintiffs appealed the ruling.

State law gives the appellants 15 days to request a rehearing of the matter if they believe the court misinterpreted or overlooked some facts in the case. It was unclear as of Monday morning if the plaintiffs plan to do that.

This is a developing story and will be updated.