WASHINGTON, DC, Dec. 20, 2018 — The New Civil Liberties Alliance today filed a Petition for a Writ of Mandamus with the Supreme Court of New Mexico. The Petition asks the Justices to vacate New Mexico’s 2017 “Campaign Finance Rule” (CFR) because it violates the separation of powers guaranteed to the state’s citizens in Article III, Section 1 of the New Mexico Constitution.

The problem began when the Legislature passed Senate Bill 96, which required—among other things—reporting of “independent expenditures” to regulators. Governor Susana Martinez vetoed SB96, concerned that the bill would likely discourage individuals from giving to charities.

Despite the veto, Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver announced that she would “go forward utilizing [her] rulemaking authority” to enact a regulation to effectuate most of the vetoed bill’s provisions. Secretary Oliver’s resulting CFR, which is substantively identical to SB96, essentially vetoed the governor’s veto by rewriting New Mexico campaign finance laws without legal authority.

Of course, the New Mexico Constitution does not confer such broad authority upon the Secretary of State, nor does it permit her to displace the governor’s veto authority, the legislature’s policymaking responsibility, and the Constitution’s basic requirements for lawmaking. NCLA is asking the Supreme Court of New Mexico to strike down this unlawful regulation and restore constitutional order to the Land of Enchantment.

The New Civil Liberties Alliance released the following statements:

“At the heart of this case lies an extraordinary breach of New Mexico’s constitution. It is constitutionally absurd to suggest that the Secretary of State may legally hijack legislative and gubernatorial authority to enact laws. Secretary Oliver’s unilateral rule-by-decree threatens the essential nature of New Mexico’s representative form of government. Every New Mexico resident should be troubled by this power grab.”
—Michael P. DeGrandis, NCLA Senior Litigation Counsel

“The constitutional role of the Secretary of State is to execute the law, not to make it. When mere administrators overstep their legal authority and act like legislators, NCLA will call them out publicly and haul them into court.”
—Mark Chenoweth, NCLA Executive Director and General Counsel

The following petitioners have joined together in this effort to vacate the Secretary’s Rule as unconstitutional:

  • Sen. William E. Sharer—District 1
  • Sen. Mark Moores—District 21
  • Rep. James R.J. Strickler—District 2
  • Rep. David M. Gallegos—District 61

About NCLA
NCLA is a nonprofit civil rights organization founded by prominent legal scholar Philip Hamburger to protect constitutional freedoms from violations by the administrative state. NCLA’s pro bono public-interest litigation and other advocacy strive to tame the unchecked power of state and federal agencies and to foster a new civil liberties movement that will help restore Americans’ fundamental rights. For more information visit us online: NCLAlegal.org

Media Inquiries: Please contact Judy Pino, 202-869-5218 or email Judy.Pino@NCLA.legal