NATIONAL GAMBLING IMPACT STUDY COMMISSION
Deborah Doxtator, is it? And Ernie Stevens.
Are you Mr. Johnson?
MR. JOHNSON: I'm Alexis Johnson
CHAIRPERSON JAMES: You're Alexis Johnson. Okay. I apologize.
MR. JOHNSON: It's confusing.
CHAIRPERSON JAMES: That's all right.
MR. JOHNSON: Madame Chairman, my name is Alexis Johnson. I'm a lawyer licensed in New Mexico. I've represented citizens and legislators against the Governor of New Mexico on compacts three times.
The issue in those cases has been substantially does the Governor of New Mexico have the power to sign compacts that are out of the scope of the constitution of New Mexico. The answer has been a resounding no. That answer is now incorporated with the U.S. government's litigation. It is moving through the district courts, where it has proceeded beyond the 10th Circuit. It is now on a petition for cert. in the U.S. Supreme Court to answer a very simple question: can a New Mexico Supreme Court decision decide the power of its own state governor?
People think this is about gambling. It is not. This is about a crisis in constitutional government.
To make that clear to you, let me make a couple of points. Whenever one talks about tribal interests in gambling, one is in an area of great sensitivity and for darn good reason. Tribes have reasons for taking the position that something ought to be done and something ought to be done now.
The problem with that is that that interest collides with constitution head on when you get to a state like New Mexico where the IGRA, however perfect or imperfect it is, does not enable a governor to sign a compact without the authority of the constitution or the legislature.
What this means in fundamental terms is that the governor can't do what the people don't enable, and that includes citizens who are tribal who are state citizens.
We have in the nation today, I think, one of the greatest crises ever. The way you know that is that the cases that have been decided in New Mexico and elsewhere have not touched the ground. We have cases that decide that gambling in New Mexico is against public policy and a crime, but we have 11 casinos.
The only person in New Mexico who is not allowed inside those casinos is the only person who has the authority to do anything about them definitively, and that's U.S. Attorney John Kelly. We have a situation in New Mexico that I would describe as the diminishing of the state, its structures, and its systems. If it continues, I think what we will see is New Mexico will be the first state to say proudly or otherwise, "We have gone from being a territory to being a state and back to being a territory." I suspect that's a suboptimal proposition for most people. I would hope that most states and their people would learn from that suboptimal experience.
We've also seen that the question is not is government for sale. It's how fast is the sale going to be conducted. We've seen the executive power submit to this. We've seen legislative power submit to this, and we've seen judicial power. The last is the most concerning. Gambling is now attacking the drafters of the decisions we have written. "We" means them, but I mean for the state and I mean for those who are seeking to advance the interests of constitutional law in the State of New Mexico.
I appreciate the opportunity. I knew I'd be cut off. I gave you much more lengthy comments. Take care and good luck.
CHAIRPERSON JAMES: Thank you.