Tuesday, July 22, 2003

I can't believe it's a law school

Today, the Review-Journal published this op-ed by UNLV law professor Sylvia Lazos, defending Nevada's Supreme Court justices for their decision that may launch an outright political free-for-all in the Silver State. It's possible to imagine someone coming up with a reasoned defense of what the court did, I suppose, but this article doesn't do it.

Money quote:

During the civil rights era, initiatives amended state constitutions to delay or resist the implementation of bussing to integrate once segregated schools. These initiatives were struck down by federal and state courts. More recently, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down state constitutional amendments that would place term limits on congressional representatives and nullified attempts to place notations on ballots warning that a congressional representative had ignored the people's directive to serve a limited number of terms.

The problem with this, of course, is that the analogy comes nowhere close to fitting the current circumstances. Professor Lazos is citing examples in which (eventually) the U.S. Supreme Court used the U.S. Constitution to trump state law; it's called the Supremacy Clause, and it's pretty basic jurisprudence. The Nevada Supremes instead said the Legislature could ignore one provision of the state constitution in favor of another because abiding by both would be "inconvenient." The court did not declare the two-thirds supermajority requirement for taxes unconstitutional; it said it was less important than the mandate to fund public education ... and all these discussions were confined to a state issue, with the federal Constitutaion never coming into play.

Sigh. Your tax dollars at work.

A deal

... has been consummated. $836 million in new taxes. No gross receipts tax or other "broad-based" business tax. A two-thirds majority (barely) approved the package. The tax increase more than doubles the previous record for a single tax hike. Still, gamers, Kenny Guinn, and legislative Democrats have won at best a Pyrrhic victory. The voters should have long memories, and mark my words, if the 2005 or 2007 Legislature asks for an additional tax increase, a substantial boost in the gross gaming tax will likely top the list.

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