Here come the lawsuits

Last week, the Nevada Supreme Court kicked the Nevada Legislature in the ass for allowing a few assemblymen to take the state hostage by playing keep-away with the state’s purse.

Many, many people got behind the Court, lauding the bravery required to take the bull by the horns to break the legislative logjam. Finally, many people thought, those knuckleheads in Carson City can get down to business and do their job to make our government work.

This paper has editorialized time and time again on the issue, asking the anti-tax, anti-reality legislators to do the right thing, to be good citizens and to do their part to help society. Many people would suppose that we’d be falling all over the Supreme Court decision. We want to, we really, really do. There’s just one problem: we believe the decision was flawed.

The trouble lies in that the Court chose to elevate one section of the Nevada Constitution over another. Interpretation of the state constitution is their job, but we can’t figure out the logic that made them choose the course of action they chose. And, brothers and sisters, we’re afraid the court chose political expediency over a long-term solution to this constitutional crisis.

While we find the two-thirds majority tax rule repugnant and against the simple majority rule that’s central to the idea of democracy, it was put on the constitution by two votes of the people. If there is any better indicator of the people’s will than a referendum vote, we don’t know what it is.

We sympathize with those people who were overjoyed that the budget problem was solved because the problem was not solved, but the situation that allowed the budgetary constipation may have been made worse.

Along other lines, there also seems to be a major flaw in the court’s logic. Essentially, the court says the school funding took precedence because the framers of the Nevada Constitution placed great importance on education. Yes, we agree with this. The problem is that the judges seem to be saying that since the education clauses are older, they deserve a higher emphasis when interpreting conflicting clauses. It seems to us that the newer clauses, the ones that more closely mirror the living population, are the clauses that should take precedence. Isn’t that how laws advance and the constitution stays relevant? And that doesn’t even bring into question which of the conflicting clauses are more general or what ideas are more specific.

In any case, our greatest fear is that now the education budget will become a sacrificial lamb—possibly by the next legislative session. In any case, it will eventually be voted on separately from the rest of the budget by the legislators, whether by citizen’s initiative or by laws passed by the very people who think it’s OK to hold children’s futures hostage.

One thing is for sure, once legislators begin looking closely at the education budget, they will find places to cut, and the anger created by the Nevada Supreme Court decision will, ironically, decrease the quality of education in the state.