If you need any more confirmation of the contempt with which the political elites view the democratic process, consider a couple of recent stories with ramifications for upcoming local elections.
On Tuesday, the ACLU filed suit to kill a potential statewide ballot question regarding so-called sanctuary cities. Senate Minority Leader Michael Roberson, a Henderson Republican, is leading a group that seeks to qualify for the 2018 election an initiative that would prohibit any Nevada government from implementing “sanctuary city” policies that undermine federal immigration law.
Mr. Roberson’s outfit, the Prevent Sanctuary Cities PAC, has barely begun to gather signatures, but the ACLU has already lawyered up to prevent voters from weighing in on the matter. The lawsuit argues that the proposed constitutional amendment is “pointless and poorly crafted.” Former Washoe County Sheriff Michael Haley, a plaintiff for the civil rights group’s effort, worries that the proposal “undermines our ability to keep our communities safe.”
All that may or may not be true. But what does it have to do with whether Nevadans should have the right to pass judgment on sanctuary cities? The fact that Mr. Haley and the ACLU believe the initiative is “pointless” and threatens to undermine public safety is nothing more than a campaign argument, not a reason to keep the issue from voters.
The ACLU’s lawsuit is a thinly veiled effort to undermine the initiative process, a useful tool that empowers citizens, promotes democracy and serves as a check on legislative arrogance. If Sen. Roberson and friends gather the requisite support, remain within constitutional boundaries and follow legal guidelines, the proposal should go before voters — regardless of whether the ACLU fears the outcome.
Meanwhile, in Henderson, a similar dynamic is at work.
Republicans have turned in the necessary signatures to hold a recall election involving state Sen. Joyce Woodhouse, D-Henderson, but Democrats are raising a number of roadblocks beyond simply ensuring the petitions meet legal requirements. The latest comes from a progressive front group known as the Nevada Alliance of Retired Americans, which filed a complaint Tuesday essentially arguing that many senior citizens who signed were too stupid to know what they were doing.
Again, this is nothing more than a political effort to scuttle the recall and prevent voters from considering the fate of Sen. Woodhouse. Whether the effort to remove her from the Senate is an abuse of the process or not — she has not been accused of any malfeasance or wrongdoing — the state constitution provides this avenue as a citizen check on the political class. As long as the petitions feature enough valid signatures, Henderson voters should have the right to decide the issue.
“Let us not forget that government is ourselves and not an alien power over us,” Franklin D. Roosevelt said. “The ultimate rulers of our democracy are … the voters of this country.” Too bad so many members of the state’s ruling class have forgotten that.