Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Feb 17, 2023 / 17:36 pm
A lawsuit is seeking to rescind a $250,000 grant that the Albuquerque City Council awarded to Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains. The plantiffs claim that the funding constitutes a “donation,” which the lawsuit says is in violation of the New Mexico Constitution.
“Politicians can’t use taxpayer money like their personal piggy bank,” Daniel Suhr, the managing attorney at the Liberty Justice Center, told CNA. The Liberty Justice Center is representing Care Net of Albuquerque, a pro-life pregnancy center in the city, and taxpayer Paul Gessing in the lawsuit.
In May 2022, shortly after a draft of the Supreme Court’s majority opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization was leaked, the Albuquerque City Council voted to provide a local Planned Parenthood with a $250,000 grant, which is being awarded in installments over a two-year period. Tammy Fiebelkorn, one of the city council members, said at the time that “extremists” are “poised to take away women’s rights and control of their own bodies,” which is why the council “affirmed our respect and support for women’s reproductive freedoms” with the funding.
Although it is common for cities to award grants to nonprofit organizations, the lawsuit notes that New Mexico’s Constitution includes a clause that prevents state and local governments from using those powers to make a donation. Article IX, Sec. 14 of the constitution states that governments cannot “make any donation to or in aid of any person, association, or public or private corporation” except in certain specific instances. The anti-donation clause does not apply if the government receives something of value in return for the funds.