weather icon Clear

Effort to recall Nevada state senators reaches high court

CARSON CITY — Nearly two years after it began, the push to recall a pair of Democratic state senators crept forward Monday as attorneys argued before the Nevada Supreme Court.

The Republican-backed effort to recall both Joyce Woodhouse, D-Henderson, and Nicole Cannizzaro, D-Las Vegas, started in August 2017.

Both are currently serving in the Legislature.

At the time, organizers collected and submitted about 14,000 signatures in support of recalling each candidate, enough to warrant a set of special elections, election officials decided based on a review of a 5 percent sample count.

In response, Democrats sued, arguing that more than 2,000 people had since signed forms asking to be removed from the recall petitions for various reasons. A Clark County judge ruled that the signature withdrawal requests were valid, then ordered a full review of the petitions.

After the full review, an April decision deemed that even without the approved signature withdrawals, the recall should have failed because there weren’t enough valid signatures in the first place. Recall backers then appealed the decision to the state’s highest court.

In the hearing Monday, attorneys for both sides sparred over the constitutionality of allowing people who initially signed recall petitions to have their signatures removed.

Marc Elias, attorney for the senators in question, also questioned the validity of the appeal itself, saying that it would be an “absurd result” if the recalls were to move forward now, given that their failure was ultimately based on a full review of the initial signatures.

Flanked by several fellow Democratic senators, Woodhouse and Cannizzaro sat side by side as they took in the arguments from the front row of the courtroom gallery.

Mark Wall, an attorney representing the recall backers, argued that once the initial signatures had been submitted and verified using the sample count, a judge never should have ordered the full count.

Wall also said that allowing people to withdraw their signatures after deadline “allows the target after the game is over to keep playing.”

The argument drew a sharp retort from Justice Elissa Cadish, who said that the full review “allowed us to discover that there weren’t sufficient signatures.”

Justice James Hardesty also questioned Wall’s logic.

“If we were to agree to your point, we would be sanctioning a recall that did not meet the statutory or constitutional requirements,” Hardesty said.

The court did not make a ruling Monday.

Contact Capital Bureau Chief Colton Lochhead at clcohhead@reviewjournal.com or 775-461-3820. Follow @ColtonLochhead on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Politics Videos
Tomi Lahren Speaks at UNLV - VIDEO
Fox News contributor and UNLV alumna Tomi Lahren returned to campus Wednesday night for a speech, titled “Stay Triggered,” that drew an auditorium of supporters as well as a group of protesters outside. (James Schaeffer/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bernie Sanders released from Las Vegas hospital - VIDEO
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., issues a statement after he was released from Desert Springs Hospital Medical Center on Friday, Oct. 4, 2019, after suffering a heart attack earlier in the week. (Bernie Sanders via Twitter)
Democratic presidential candidates speak on impeachment - VIDEO
Democratic presidential candidates attending the March for Our Lives/Giffords Gun Safety Forum in Las Vegas comment on possible impeachment proceedings. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Joe Biden Las Vegas Rally Highlights - Video
2020 presidential candidate, Joe Biden, came to Las Vegas to talk guns, climate change and the Ukranian-Trump scandal. Biden was interrupted by a protestor who sat amongst supporters at the rally and continued with his speech. (Angus Kelly & James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Joe Biden comments on Trump and his campaign efforts in Nevada - Video
After an impeachment inquiry was opened on Donald Trump, Joe Biden talks with Review-Journal politics reporter Rory Appleton about Trump and his campaign in Nevada. (Angus Kelly & James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bernie Sanders Unveils Affordable Housing Plan - Video
Bernie Sanders sits down with the Las Vegas Review-Journal to talk about his new affordable housing plan he unveiled at Plumbers & Pipefitters.
Jim Marchant talks gun control and Dreamers - Video
Republican Candidate for District 4 Jim Marchant talks about gun control and immigration policies. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Hurricanes, Gender, and Science in the Press
Imagine if the mainstream media’s current hurricane-sized obsession with scientific accuracy applied to gender.
Cory Booker on college tuition and minimum wage
Cory Booker talks on the RJ Politics podcast about college debt, informing workers about their rights and livable wages.
Nevada Politics Today: Teacher raises - VIDEO
Jason Goudie, the chief financial officer for the Clark County School District, talks about teacher pay and raises. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Media's Double Standard On Incitement And Trump - Video
Over the weekend, an Elizabeth Warren-supporting socialist who opposed gun violence used a rifle to commit a mass murder in Dayton, Ohio. The media has downplayed that aspect of the tragedy.
Project Our Care Tour Kicks Off In Las Vegas
U.S. Rep. Dina Titus joined health care advocates and local residents as part of Protect Our Care’s nationwide bus tour kick off in Las Vegas on Monday, August 5, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Bernie Sanders talks about guns, response to El Paso shooting
Sen. Bernie Sanders spoke about his response and continued policy ideas about guns and gun control to the Review-Journal after a panel of other topics. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pete Buttigieg On Gun Control And Climate Change - Video
Pete Buttigieg talks about his campaign for the 2020 election and how Nevada is a vision of what the future can be.
Beto O'Rourke speaks in Las Vegas
Presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke spoke to supporters at the East Las Vegas Community Center in Las Vegas, Thursday, Aug. 2, 2019. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
BLM whistleblower regains job in Nevada after firing

Craig Hoover, a rangeland specialist with the federal agency, said he was terminated after reporting illegal livestock grazing in eastern Nevada.