Plan for establishment-backed court a blank check that could take any shape

We’ve all heard the expression “anointed candidate.” It’s pretty common here in Nevada and describes a process in which the powers that be get together and decide that a particular candidate in a particular contest is clearly best for Nevada (and, of course, best for them).

They then put their substantial resources of time, money and organization behind the anointed one, thereby overwhelming any opposition that might dare to challenge their choice.

Obviously, this doesn’t happen in every race for every office, but it does happen, and let’s face it, we have learned to live with it. Besides, the anointed choices are usually at least OK and sometimes even more than just OK, although once elected they are seriously conflicted between the responsibilities of the office to the people and the wants, desires and interests of those who put them there. I think it’s called politics.

This is a very interesting year, because we have an “anointed” ballot question. Question 1, the proposal to create a three-judge Court of Appeals, has all the hallmarks of anointment. Pushed by the Nevada Supreme Court and backed by the legal establishment with lots of money sitting in its own political action committee, Question 1 is as juiced and wired as anything we’ve seen in a long time. It’s no wonder several reports have stated there is no “organized opposition.”

So, why would anyone go into the election booth and vote “No” on Question 1? Well, for one thing, we are not voting to create a three-judge court of appeals. We are actually voting to give the Nevada Legislature the constitutional authority to create a court of appeals system. The Legislature and the Supreme Court will be able to create any system they want in any time frame they want, at will.

With review and approval by a vote of the people? Don’t be silly. It’s right there in the ballot “Explanation &Digest”: The Court of Appeals “would consist of three judges but this ballot measure would authorize the Legislature to increase the number of judges.” This is an aspect that has not been mentioned in any articles I’ve read on Question 1, and with no opposition, those pushing it have been put under no pressure to explain or justify why we should surrender our constitutional oversight when it comes to a court of appeals system. It’s what you might call a successful exercise in misleading leadership by omission.

As confirmation that Question 1 is far more than it says it is, the Supreme Court has introduced to the 2015 Legislature Bill Draft Request (BDR) 495, which states, in full: “revises provisions relating to the Court of Appeals.” Wait a minute! The court wants to “revise provisions” relating to a court that doesn’t even exist yet? I called the court and was told BDR 495 is a “blank page” (blank check?) that will be filled in if (when?) Question 1 passes. I was curious: Filled in with what? The spokesman didn’t know, and I wasn’t going to press him, since he’s not in a position to know anyway.

However, the question looms out there. What “revisions”? What does the court want once Question 1 passes? Simple tweaks and housekeeping changes, or something far more substantial? It’s really not that difficult to know. The court wants at least a five-judge Court of Appeals, and the court wants it as soon as it can get it. Then it will want a seven-judge court and, ultimately, probably two circuits: one for Clark County and a second for Washoe County and the rest of the state.

Believe it nor not, I like this Supreme Court. I think it has done good work in important areas. But the court and the legal establishment have gone too far. They want us to support Question 1 and, in so doing, literally vote ourselves out of our place in the Nevada Constitution. Whatever our political leanings may be, that is something we really should not want to do.

Let the court come back with a Court of Appeals proposal that does not give it and the Legislature a blank check to do whatever they want to do in the future, with We the People rendered irrelevant to the process. It’s our constitution. Let’s not give any of it away.

Please vote no on Question 1.

Knight Allen is a Las Vegas resident.

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