New Mexico Supreme Court Justice Barbara Vigil retired on June 30. She joined the court in 2012 after winning election to an open seat on the court against Paul J. Kennedy, 55% to 45%. Vigil won a retention election for a full eight-year term in 2016, with 72% of voters retaining her. Before that, Vigil served for 12 years as a New Mexico First Judicial District Court judge.
In the event of a midterm vacancy, New Mexico Supreme Court justices are chosen by assisted gubernatorial appointment, which means that the governor will select a nominee based on recommendations from the Supreme Court Judicial Nominating Commission. To remain in office, the new appointee must stand for partisan election in November 2022 and retention election in 2024.
All five New Mexico Supreme Court justices have been either elected as Democrats or appointed by a Democratic governor. Vigil’s replacement will be Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s (D) fourth nominee to the five-member supreme court, and Chief Justice Michael Vigil (no relation) was elected as a Democrat.
In 2021, there have been 14 supreme court vacancies caused by retirements in 12 of the 29 states where replacement justices are appointed instead of elected.