Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s administration is once again facing a legal challenge to one of its COVID-19 public health orders after two New Mexico women filed a lawsuit questioning the constitutionality of mandatory vaccinations.

The lawsuit, filed Thursday in U.S. District Court, argues vaccine mandates for certain workers, in particular health care workers, violates constitutional rights and seeks a judgment preventing enforcement of the order.

The lawsuit also argues against a vaccine mandate that potentially bars people from participating in the New Mexico State Fair is punitive.

It seeks to halt the mandate through a temporary restraining order and injunction.

On Aug. 18, Lujan Grisham issued an order requiring health care workers, as well as teachers and other staff, to be fully vaccinated unless they qualify for an exemption. The order also requires anyone attending the New Mexico State Fair to be fully vaccinated.

The lawsuit names Lujan Grisham and acting Health Secretary David Scrase as defendants.

Jennifer Blackford of Bernalillo County, a registered nurse at Presbyterian Hospital in Albuquerque, is one of the two women who brought the case forward.

Presbyterian Healthcare Services, which operates several hospitals in the state, recently announced it would require its entire workforce to be vaccinated, with a first dose by Friday. According to the public health order, those who refuse to get the vaccine and do not qualify for an exemption based on religious or medical reasons run the risk of losing their jobs.

Blackford, in a signed affidavit, said she is refusing the vaccine in part because of its U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Emergency Use Authorization status.

The lack of full FDA approval has been cited as a reason for vaccine-hesitant people to forgo inoculation. According to the FDA website, Emergency Use Authorization means a vaccine still requires a “rigorous development process” and multiple clinical trials.

However, the Pfizer vaccine received full FDA approval Monday for those 16 and over. It remains in emergency status for children under 16.

As of Monday, 76 percent of New Mexicans over 18 have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

The other plaintiff in the suit is Union County Extension Agent Talisha Valdez, a mother of two daughters who, according to the complaint, entered animals at the state fair but could be barred from attending due to an order requiring attendees to be vaccinated.

Nora Meyers Sackett, the governor’s spokeswoman, wrote in an email that while the administration does not comment on pending litigation, “the state’s ability to protect the health and safety of the public by implementing public health policies has been upheld again and again in the courts.”

Valdez and Blackford are represented by A. Blair Dunn, an Albuquerque-based attorney who has filed multiple other lawsuits challenging the governor’s public health orders during the pandemic.

Dunn could not be reached for comment on the most recent complaint, which calls Lujan Grisham a “tyrannical governor willing to punish children and destroy livelihoods.”

The suit also calls the vaccine mandate the biggest assault on “American liberty” since the use of internment camps for Japanese Americans during World War II.

(15) comments

ba hop

the hypocrisy of the conspiratorial right is glaringly alarming (as it usually is)- one reason many give for refusing the vaccine is that they are not 'sheep' - yet many are willing to take an unapproved horse medication (ivermectin) they heard from 'credible' anonymous sources on FB/social media prevents covid.

Russell Scanlon

Hospitals require their personnel to get vaccinated for all sorts of things (or wear face masks). This wouldn’t have been an issue until Donald Trump poisoned the well of common sense and civility. Shame on all these idiots who are supposed to be protecting our health instead of making BS political points.

paul pacheco

Nothing better than to test the rule of law "outside" the jurisdiction of New Mexico courts! Another loss for MLG coming down the pipe!

Barry Rabkin

The lawsuit will fail. The US Supreme Court has ruled several times going back over 100 years that States (and businesses) can legally mandate vaccinations to protect public health.

Chris Mechels

The interesting part of this question pertains to Covid itself. It's a bit more deadly than the flu, and affects mostly the same population. At what point is a line crossed, where the government gets to tell us what to do???

I have gotten the Moderna shots, but I am really quite sick of MLG, with her tiny grasp of the issues, pushing us around. She still has us wearing "face coverings"... not masks. Lovely... Does she understand anything about science, or only politics and PR? One of the worst governors in memory, even Susanna was much more capable.

Khal Spencer


Khal Spencer

Well, the "experimental" part of the Pfizer issue is now moot. As far as the constitutionality? Until a legal scholar comments here, I'll ignore the conjecture. Did find one analysis.

David Gunter

I didn't know about the 1922 Texas case but I'm familiar with the 1905 Massachusetts vs. Jacobson case. I have yet to find anything that overturns or pushes aside that one.

Khal Spencer

From the link: "...According to the Congressional Research Service’s most-recent analysis, the general principles in Jacobson and Zucht form the basis for modern vaccine mandate policies, even though the Court’s interpretations of the 14th Amendment have changed since 1922...."

Jerry Appel

I don't know how much this lawyer is getting paid to launch this lawsuit, by whoever it is that is funding this boondoggle, but the judge should throw out the lawsuit and suspend the license of this attorney, not because there will not be others, but to send a message. File another absurd lawsuit and lose your license to practice.

John Cook

Lawyer Dunn is not likely to have his license suspended over filing a bad lawsuit. A lawyer has to be as public and overtly lying as Giuliani for that to happen. However, to use such inflammatory and defaming language in a federal complaint, coupled with the baselessness of the claim should open him to substantial sanctions by the court. And it should subject his clients to an order to pay the attorney's fees of the state and the individuals sued.

Bridget Johnson

Blair Dunn has made a career filing spurious lawsuits, lining his pockets and taking advantage of misinformed people who can't cope with laws they don't like.

Charlotte Rowe

These so-called "medical workers" are probably not the actual educated ones who understand medicine. Moreover, they got a sham lawyer if their claim is that there is anything unconstitutional about vaccine requirements. Perhaps the lawyer should actually read the constitution.

Barry Rabkin

Local, city, and state governments will win lawsuits brought against them for mandating the COVID-19 vaccine. Businesses will win lawsuits brought against them for mandating that their employees get the COVID-19 vaccine. This is not ‘my body, my choice’ decision. No person has the Constitutional right or freedom to infect other people.

Daniel Yoakum

So you won’t infect anyone once you’re vaccinated?

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