EDITORIAL: Instead of going to court, state Democrats should save recall arguments for the voters

Apparently, one good stunt deserves another.

On Monday, national Democratic operatives filed a federal lawsuit challenging the legality of Nevada’s recall process. The action comes in response to a controversial GOP effort to recall three state senators, Joyce Woodhouse and Nicole Cannizzaro, both Democrats, and Patricia Farley, a Republican turned independent who votes with the Democrats.

The lawsuit comes courtesy of Marc Elias, a longtime Democratic attorney who served as general counsel to Hillary Clinton during the 2016 election, and Bradley Schrager, former counsel for the Nevada Democratic Party.

The lawsuit makes all sorts of allegations, even playing the race card. It argues with typical progressive paternalism and condescension that the recall process would place an undue burden on voters, particularly minorities. It also claims that a recall petition based solely on policy differences and not on misconduct or malfeasance doesn’t benefit the state and threatens our republican form of government.

The latter may be legitimate points to make when trying to convince voters to reject the GOP scheme. But as a legal argument, it’s akin to grasping at straws. Nevada’s recall statutes are silent on whether any such vote would be beneficial to anyone. That’s up to the voters to determine. The law also doesn’t require any specific reason to launch a recall, nor should it. And how does an election subvert our system of government?

The fact that no lawmaker has ever been recalled undermines arguments that the GOP strategy will threaten to make such elections routine. The recall process is burdensome, in large part to discourage frivolous efforts.

Mr. Elias’s arguments could have been made back in 2012 when Democrats sought to recall Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker over his collective bargaining reforms — in other words, “policy” issues. No doubt Mr. Elias was cheerleading that failed attempt to “undo” an election.

The Republican push to oust the three state senators — which hasn’t even cleared the signature-gathering phase yet — is unorthodox, to say the least. It’s an effort to reclaim control of the upper house before the electoral landscape becomes too big an impediment for the party.

But arguments that the GOP recalls are an abuse of the system or a burden on taxpayers should be deployed to sway voters, not trotted out in court in a partisan attempt to deny Nevadans the right to initiate such campaigns under state law.

Democrats at one time enjoyed the high ground on this issue. Not anymore. If the GOP succeeds in gathering the necessary signatures against any of the three senators, the court should reject any attempt to halt the process.

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