This article posits that the mode of analysis of state constitutional issues adopted by the New Mexico Supreme Court in State v. Gomez, as it has been applied in the civil context, has neither “promote[d] the development of a sound body of state constitutional jurisprudence” nor led to “consistent, predictable, and reasonable state court decision-making,” as some envisioned in 1998. Instead, it has often led to essentially automatic deference to federal precedent interpreting comparable provisions of the Federal Constitution and very limited, if any, consideration of protections afforded under our state constitution. In addition, the inconsistent application of the Gomez requirements in civil cases has made “predictable” and “reasonable” decision-making impossible, for lawyers and lower courts alike. Given these issues and the new NMCRA cause of action, there is an urgent need for the New Mexico Supreme Court to reconsider the Gomez framework and to develop a method for analyzing state constitutional issues that recognizes the independent legal significance of state constitutions in our system of dual sovereigns and also provides clarity and guidance to litigants and judges. This article does not attempt to prescribe the components of that independent mode of analysis and interpretation. That important task will require the formulation of sound and principled theories by lawyers and judges who have taken the time to study, not only the New Mexico Constitution’s text and related case law, but also court decisions and scholarship concerning interpretation of state constitutions. Instead, this article simply spotlights the need to develop an approach in which state constitutional provisions with federal analogues are not treated as “a mere row of shadows” and the central focus is on “the meaning of the state constitution itself, rather than on comparing it with, or relating it to, the Federal Constitution.”

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