Friday, June 18, 2010

Nevada Supreme Court Runs Out the Clock on Personhood Initiative

CARSON CITY, Nev., June 18 /Christian Newswire/ -- After sitting on the case for months, the Nevada State Supreme Court waited until the day after the Personhood Nevada deadline to now ask why they should have to decide the case at all. 

On January 8, District Court Judge James Russell, in issuing an injunction keeping the personhood initiative off the ballot and preventing signature collection, ruled that the fourteen word amendment did not encompass a single subject. 

The proposed amendment reads, "In the great state of Nevada, the term 'person' applies to every human being." 

Personhood Nevada filed an appeal of Judge Russell's decision to the Nevada Supreme Court on February 12. Despite the timely manner of Personhood Nevada's appeal, the Nevada Supreme Court waited until the day after the deadline to issue its order. 

The Court Order read, "It appears that the initiative's proponents may not have obtained sufficient signatures to place the measure on the ballot, thus rendering this appeal moot. This court's duty is to decide actual controversies, not to give opinions on moot questions." 

Personhood Nevada was prohibited from collecting even one signature by Judge Russell's decision. The Nevada Supreme Court was aware of Judge Russell's decision, and its ramifications, one of which being that Personhood Nevada would be in violation of the law, and in contempt of court, for collecting even one signature. 

"Clearly this is an offense to our 1st Amendment rights," stated Olaf Vancura, initiative sponsor. "The Court delayed their response for so long that they now have the audacity to try to avoid a decision altogether. When the appeal was filed, the petition was not moot. The court, by its own inaction, may now possibly find the issue moot. This is a gross obstruction of my rights, and those of our board and volunteers as both Americans and Nevadans! The Supreme Court needs to decide this case now; if they don't, we can expect the same injustices to repeat in 2012." 

Continued Vancura, "The state legislature's small time window to gather petitions, coupled with the routing of all challenges through a single, activist district court, mean that it is nearly impossible for any citizen-led initiative to reach the ballot if challenged. Tragically in Nevada, the citizens' right to petition is now, for all practical purposes, defunct."