The state Supreme Court has scheduled a hearing Tuesday to hear arguments on whether the public can enter the Roundhouse during a special session of the Legislature, scheduled to start later this week.

A group of legislators filed a petition last week with the Supreme Court seeking to have a decision by the Legislative Council to close the state Capitol overturned.

The bipartisan committee of lawmakers voted to prohibit the public from attending the session, citing public safety concerns amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Sen. Cliff Pirtle, R-Roswell, said last week the closing of the Roundhouse would jeopardize transparency and encourage "backroom deals."

In their court filing, the legislators argue the Legislative Council Committee's action violates the state constitution, which says all sessions of the Legislature shall be open to the public. The decision to conduct a "closed or non-public session" also constitutes a due process violation. 

While the majority of the lawmakers who filed the petition are Republicans, Democratic Sens. Gabriel Ramos of Silver City and Clemente Sanchez of Grants and Rep. Willie Madrid of Chaparral also are listed among the petitioners.

The hearing, scheduled for 1:30 p.m., will be streamed live by New Mexico PBS on its YouTube page, according to the state Administrative Office of the Courts.

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