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Anti-sanctuary city petition thrown out by Carson City judge

A Carson City judge threw out an anti-sanctuary city ballot initiative that was proposed by Republican Senate Leader Michael Roberson.

In his ruling, District Judge James Russell on Friday said that the “Prevent Sanctuary Cities” petition was “excessively broad and general,” and likely to confuse voters.

The proposed constitutional amendment was proposed in October by Roberson’s Prevent Sanctuary Cities PAC, and would have prohibited any state or local government from implementing policies that would make it a “sanctuary community” that does not cooperate with federal immigration laws.

Roberson, who is running for lieutenant governor and serves as the PAC’s honorary chairman, said in a statement that he disagreed with the judge’s ruling and intends to appeal.

“Nevada voters have a right to prevent this from happening. California has now become a Sanctuary State and if politicians like Jacky Rosen, Chris Giunchigliani, Kate Marshall, and Aaron Ford have their say, Nevada will be next,” Roberson said in a statement. “Rest assured, I have not yet begun to fight and I look forward to presenting our case at the Nevada Supreme Court.”

If Roberson’s appeal to the Supreme Court appeal fails, he would have to start any new petitions from scratch, as all previously gathered signatures would be considered invalid.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada filed a lawsuit in November challenging the initiative as misleading to voters and one that could jeopardize public safety.

The ACLU celebrated the ruling Friday.

“We are happy the judge recognized the misleading nature of this initiative petition, which if allowed to move forward would have confused voters,” ACLU Legal Director Amy Rose said in a statement after the ruling.

Former Washoe County Sheriff Michael Haley, a plaintiff in the lawsuit, said Roberson’s amendment gave the impression that local law enforcement agencies are not currently cooperating with federal immigration authorities.

“We already have enforcement. We already cooperate with federal immigration authorities,” Haley told the Review-Journal.

Contact Colton Lochhead at clochhead@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4638. Follow @ColtonLochhead.

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