Petition drive ends

The Nevada Supreme Court has ruled that an anti-sanctuary cities political group was too cute in the way it worded its initiative petition and must start over. The petition, filed by the Prevent Sanctuary Cities Political Action Committee does not actually use the term “sanctuary city” except in the title, and there it could be read to mean that the initiative petition calls for blocking a pro-sanctuary cities effort: “PREVENT SANCTUARY CITIES INITIATIVE” (the all-caps are in the original).

A lawsuit challenged the petition on grounds that its language is misleading and that it violates Nevada’s constitutional requirement that legislative measures deal with only a single topic. The court denied the challenge to the single-subject rule, but upheld it on the misleading verbiage.

“As Tu Casa urges, and the district court found, the title ‘Prevent Sanctuary Cities’ is a catch-all that is subject to shifting and imprecise meanings, not a neutral, descriptive phrase. … Together, the title and the description of effect must be sufficient to allow the voter who is asked to sign … to understand the initiative being proposed and its effect if adopted. Here, the potentially misleading title, combined with the initiative’s generality and the deficient description of effect, do not accomplish that end.”

The case has been returned to the district court level for new language, assuming the PAC decides to continue with the petition campaign. Al