If you were creating a shortlist of luminaries in the field of public health, you wouldn’t think that someone named Michelle Lujan Grisham would appear on it. At no point in her life did Grisham receive any training in medicine or science. Instead, she has a Bachelor of Arts degree in something called “university studies.” For the uninitiated, a degree in “university studies” is what people get when they don’t want to study in a university. Then Grisham earned a law degree, which of course, also has nothing to do with public health. Afterwards, for several years, Grisham worked at a state department dealing with aging and long-term services. She eventually directed the department.
Those were Michelle Lujan Grisham’s credentials when, in 2004, she became the highest-ranking public health official in the state of New Mexico. Presumably, the fact she came from a prominent political family in the state didn’t hurt her chances of getting the job. Whatever the case, Grisham’s tenure as the state’s Secretary of Health was unremarkable. She only had the post for a couple of years before moving on.
But many years later, in 2020, the incoming Biden administration took a very close look at Michelle Lujan Grisham. For reasons that remain unknown, the Biden administration apparently believed Grisham’s limited expertise in the field of public health from more than a decade ago qualified her to run the Department of Health and Human Services. This is the department that oversees all public health issues in the entire country. Biden’s aides publicly courted her for the job. They said she was under careful consideration. Ultimately, though, Grisham decided to remain as governor of New Mexico.
In that capacity, from the beginning, Grisham governed less like a politician, and more like a public health bureaucrat with limitless powers. For the past three years, Grisham has ruled the state under an indefinite public health emergency. As recently as late last year — when most of the country had moved on from COVID — Grisham was issuing orders requiring that state workers and hospital employees wear masks and take a regular schedule of COVID shots. Grisham often cited “experts” like herself to justify these unlawful and increasingly untenable mandates.
By March of this year, though, the people of New Mexico finally had enough. Grisham, lacking the political will to sustain yet another extension of her public health powers, formally ended the COVID emergency in the state. It took long enough, but Grisham’s authority to issue unilateral edicts was gone.
Put yourself in Michelle Lujan Grisham’s position at that moment. How would you handle the reality that you can no longer rule your state like a dictator? If you were a well-adjusted person who cared about your constitutional oath of office, you’d probably be thankful the emergency is over — even if it was fake to begin with. You wouldn’t want to assert arbitrary, extralegal powers.
Suffice it to say, that wasn’t Michelle Grisham’s reaction. Instead she immediately began ruminating about other ways that she could expand her emergency powers. In May, in a conversation that didn’t receive any attention from the media, Grisham spoke to Johns Hopkins University’s school of public health about her plan to expand the field of “public health” to encompass every imaginable policy issue. This is footage that should have set off a lot of alarm bells, but no one even talked about it. Watch:
And then she says:
“Everything is a public health issue,” says Michelle Lujan Grisham. She says that includes poverty, climate change, gun violence. “Let’s fix the world,” Grisham says, as the Johns Hopkins public health lady nods and grins.
You might be wondering when it became the goal of the public health industry to “fix the world.” Wasn’t the gig to make sure the public is healthy? Not anymore, apparently. In fact, that hasn’t been the goal since COVID. You might remember it was a Johns Hopkins “public health expert” named Jennifer Nuzzo who stated that it’s a bad idea to riot during the COVID pandemic — unless you’re rioting for George Floyd and BLM, in which case, go for it.
So public health isn’t the goal anymore. Now the goal is to pursue social justice. Now the goal is to correct every problem with the world — and the people who identify the “problems” are Governor Grisham and other Left-wing bureaucrats like her.
You can think of a variety of terms to describe what’s going on here. “Mission creep” comes to mind. It’s also incoherent, because if every problem is a public health problem, then “public health” has outlived its usefulness as a distinct category. If everything is a public health issue, nothing is a public health issue. Whatever you call this phenomenon we’re seeing, it’s obvious what Grisham is doing and why she’s doing it. Like the rest of the public health establishment, she has realized that she can assume totalitarian powers as long as she can claim to address some “public health matter.” The solution is to label everything a public health matter. If she manages to do that, then she gets control of everything. That was her approach, and she said it out loud in front of a friendly audience back in May.
A couple of days ago, as you might have seen, Grisham put the next stage of her plan into motion. She announced a “public health order” that prohibits residents in so-called high crime areas, including New Mexico’s biggest city, from possessing firearms outside their homes. In making this announcement, Grisham admits that criminals won’t follow the law. She also acknowledges she’s probably going to get overturned in the courts eventually. But she doesn’t care. Watch:
WATCH: New Mexico’s Democrat Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham shreds the Constitution while trying to strip her constituents ability to carry firearms.
— Steve Guest (@SteveGuest) September 9, 2023
The order sends a “resounding message,” Grisham says. She’s not even pretending there’s any legal merit to this. She doesn’t even suggest that criminals will obey it. It’s all about the message.
What is that message exactly? Superficially, what Grisham is saying is that no right is “absolute,” in her words. That’s basically true, of course. That’s why there’s a legal process for removing rights. If you’re convicted of murder, you lose your right to carry a gun, for example. Most people have no issue with that. Certainly everyone would agree that you can’t bring your gun with you into prison. But Grisham is attempting to strip everyone’s basic constitutional rights all at once, by the stroke of a pen. And her reasoning to justify that dramatic expansion of her authority is ludicrous. There has always been “gun crime.” What exactly makes it a special emergency now?
In that clip, you heard Grisham allude to something approaching an explanation, at least in her view. She says that an 11-year-old child was just shot and killed in a road rage accident near a baseball stadium in Albuquerque. Someone shot 17 times at a moving vehicle, killing the child and critically injuring a woman in the car. Therefore, Grisham says, because of this emotionally charged episode, we need to punish every law-abiding gun owner in the entire state. We need to turn them into criminals. If road rage is the issue, then you’d think she would ban cars. But I guess she doesn’t think she can get away with that — yet — so she’s settling just for the guns.
Interestingly enough, Grisham doesn’t display any curiosity about the assailant in that shooting. At the moment Grisham issued that order ending the Second Amendment in New Mexico because this 11-year-old was killed, authorities didn’t know the identity of the suspect. They didn’t know a single thing about him. That’s more than a little strange, if you think about it. You have to wonder: what kind of person shoots a moving vehicle 17 times due to “road rage?” Are we talking about someone with a criminal history, perhaps? Maybe someone on probation? Could it be that we’re not even talking about an American citizen at all?
Those are questions that Grisham very badly doesn’t want you to think about. But they’re reasonable questions, especially if you’re familiar with the numbers on how many felons and illegal aliens are shooting up the streets in New Mexico right now — thanks in large part to policies that Grisham and her fellow Democrats have enacted. Nearly half of all federal crimes in the entire country are committed in states like New Mexico that sit along the Mexican border. There’s a reason for that; it’s called open borders. But Democrats in the state haven’t done anything about it. In fact, during the Trump administration, Grisham refused to call the border crisis an emergency. But now she’s saying the Second Amendment is a problem, not the criminals in her state who are shooting people.
Where is this leading, exactly? Again, Grisham knows her order is going to get overturned eventually, which is probably why she limits it to 30 days. She’s hoping the courts will take longer than 30 days to strike this down. So what’s the real agenda here? Is this order just a trial balloon to introduce this idea to the public, so that down the line, these kinds of “emergency orders” are more palatable?
Reading between the lines, you can see that the Democratic Party views it that way. Following Grisham’s order, to the surprise of many conservatives, Democratic Senator Ted Lieu, along with the deeply neurotic anti-gun Harvard kid David Hogg, came out and criticized the order as unconstitutional. They used almost precisely the same language, which tells you that a memo went out somewhere, to coordinate Left-wing messaging on this.
Here’s what Lieu wrote: “I support gun safety laws. However … No state in the union can suspend the federal Constitution. There is no such thing as a state public health emergency exception to the U.S. Constitution.”
Hogg wrote basically the same thing: “I support gun safety but there is no such thing as a state public health emergency exception to the U.S. Constitution.”
First of all, notice how creepy it is that a Harvard brat and a U.S. senator are sourcing their talking points from the same mysterious higher power. Those posts did not come from Ted Lieu’s office or from the brilliant mind of David Hogg. They probably came from the D.N.C., which is providing messaging on how to handle this. For that reason, it’s worth parsing the messages very carefully. Both messages say there’s no *state* exception to the U.S. Constitution that allows for public health emergencies to supersede constitutional rights. That sounds good, but of course it doesn’t go far enough — not even close. They’re deliberately leaving open the possibility that the *federal* government might be able to step in and create such public health exemptions to constitutional rights. They’re reserving that power for Congress at some point in the future, even as they say the states can’t do it on their own.
That’s a big deal because if you think back to COVID, some of the biggest infringements on civil liberties came from the federal government’s assertion of emergency powers. The C.D.C. nationalized the country’s rental properties. They made it illegal for landlords to evict tenants, even when those tenants weren’t paying rent. Nothing like that has ever happened in this country, but a so-called “public health agency” did it. And of course the Biden administration fired service members who didn’t take the shot. In fact they tried to have more than 100 million workers in private companies fired unless they took the shot or submitted to regular COVID testing. Over and over again, the feds set the blueprint for COVID totalitarianism, and the states followed.
Is that what they’re planning for the next “emergency”? Will the federal government attempt to use “emergency powers” to supersede the Second Amendment, as they superseded all of our rights during COVID?
For the moment, thankfully, it doesn’t appear that this attempt to unilaterally end the Second Amendment in New Mexico will succeed. For one thing, several law enforcement officials in New Mexico have come out and said they’d refuse to enforce this order. Yesterday, as the journalist Ford Fischer documented, protesters — many of them openly carrying — showed up in Albuquerque, and the police didn’t do anything about it. On one hand, this is obviously encouraging. It shows why we have the Second Amendment in the first place. It’s a self-reinforcing amendment, essentially. When everyone’s armed, it’s awfully difficult for police to disarm everyone without violence — violence that no politician wants to be responsible for, at least not yet.
But at the same time, this is all still profoundly distressing. It shouldn’t fall on American citizens to go out in public and risk arrest, or civil penalties totaling thousands of dollars, to enjoy a constitutional right. The simple fact that this kind of demonstration is even necessary is a huge win for the Left. This is a win for the partisans who want to chip away at our constitutional rights, bit by bit, until they’re gone.
We know that because Grisham should be in prison right now. She is conspiring to undermine the federal rights of American citizens, which according to the precedent set by the Trump prosecutions, is supposedly a very serious crime. And unlike Trump, Grisham is openly admitting that she intends to subvert Americans’ constitutional rights. In fact, as of last night, Grisham was openly bragging about all of this on Twitter. So why isn’t every D.A. in New Mexico bringing charges against Grisham tonight? Where are the RICO charges? Where are the raids on her mansion? Why isn’t she being frog-marched down the street in handcuffs? Why aren’t they trying to throw her in prison for the rest of her life? That’s what she deserves. And it’s what the Left would obviously do if the shoe was on the other foot. Imagine if a Republican governor tried to, I don’t know, unilaterally suspend the 19th Amendment, arguing that women voters are a threat to the country and our way of life. How do we think Democrats would respond to that?
Well if Grisham’s order was a trial balloon, the response from the right has been woefully insufficient. Tyrants have always used emergencies, whether real or imaginary, to justify their power grabs. COVID was the pivotal moment when most of the country laid down and allowed the government to suspend essentially all of our rights for the sake of protecting us against a cold. Career bureaucrats like Governor Michelle Grisham took note of that. Now she’s taking it to the next level, and she’s getting only minimal pushback.
It’s not hard to imagine where this goes next. As we showed you in that video from Johns Hopkins, Grisham herself has outlined the plan from here. We can expect a “climate change emergency” to justify banning cars, a “transphobia emergency” to shut down non-affirming speech, a “racism emergency” to ram through a federal reparations plan, a “poverty emergency” to redistribute wealth. The possibilities are endless. And unless public health autocrats like Michelle Lujan Grisham experience real consequences for what they’re doing, then these nation-ending possibilities will become reality.