Voters reject changing judge selection

Perhaps daunted by a potential $3 billion budget shortfall, voters overwhelmingly rejected the four statewide questions on Tuesday’s ballot.

The electorate will continue to pick district and Supreme Court judges through contested elections; no help is on the way for the Supreme Court; the Internet remains free of a sales tax; and lawmakers will have to leave the PISTOL in the holster.

“The people of Nevada are independent,” said retired Nevada Supreme Court Justice William Maupin, a supporter of merit selection. “They want to retain the right to vote for judges. That’s a tradition in this state that goes back to statehood.”

A majority of attorneys, business groups, unions and both Republican and Democratic lawmakers — and most notably retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor — supported merit selection of judges; but 58 percent of voters who cast a ballot for Question 1 disagreed.

Merit selection would have put the initial selection of judges in the hands of a commission and the governor, followed by a retention election.

Question 2, which would have created an intermediate appellate court to address the Supreme Court’s heavy caseload, suffered a similar fate, with 53 percent of voters shooting it down.

Nevada has the second highest per justice caseload among the nation’s highest state courts. The seven justices will continue to face that burden.

“This was a very important initiative,” said Maupin, who also supported the intermediate court. “It’s essential in the long run for people to approve this. This will make the process of appellate justice better and faster.”

An attempt to let the state collect sales taxes on Internet purchases Nevadans make also failed to pass. Question 3 was overwhelmingly shot down by 68 percent of voters.

The measure was largely preemptive, since the federal government prohibits states from compelling Internet sellers to collect taxes unless the seller also has a physical presence in the state.

Supporters of the bill sought the tax to “level the playing field,” as “Main Street” businesses have to collect sales tax.

Question 4 revisits the passage of the so-called PISTOL initiative from two years ago, a voter-approved constitutional amendment that prevents the government from using eminent domain laws to take private property and turn it over to private developers.

Lawmakers concluded certain aspects of the amendment prevent government from entering legitimate partnerships that would benefit the public.

More than 67 percent of Nevadans are opposed to changing a single word of the amendment.

Contact Doug McMurdo at or 702-224-5512 or read more courts coverage at

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