Are partisan tax hikes more important than the constitution?

Robert Fellner

A Carson City judge ruled yesterday that the Nevada Constitution means what it says: any bill that “creates, generates or increases any public revenue in any form” requires a two-thirds majority vote to be passed. Senate Republicans initiated the lawsuit shortly after Democrats passed two revenue-increasing bills without securing the necessary two-thirds majority support.

The case is now heading to the Nevada Supreme Court where, if the justices uphold their oath to enforce the constitution as written, the ruling of the district court will be affirmed.

Clark County Commissioner Tick Segerblom, however, believes that higher taxes are more important than the faithful execution of the constitution, and is hopeful that the state supreme court will overturn this ruling.

But in order for that to happen, Segerblom said in a tweet posted shortly after the ruling was announced, Ozzie Fumo must first be elected to the Nevada Supreme Court.

Shockingly, Fumo seemingly endorsed the claim that he could be counted on to uphold the unconstitutionally passed tax hikes, when he retweeted Segerblom’s initial statement:

Fumo’s apparent endorsement of the claim made by Segerblom — that he would, if elected, rule to invalidate the tax-hike provision adopted by more than 70 percent of Nevada voters, twice — raises serious questions about his understanding of the constitution’s plain language, and the requirement of the judiciary to uphold and enforce that language in an unbiased manner.

Fumo’s retweet could also conceivably violate the judicial rules that prohibit candidates from making any “pledges, promises, or commitments” about how they would rule on a matter likely to come before the court.

Advocating for the judiciary to ignore the constitution undermines the legitimacy of government itself, which could lead to quite dire outcomes in the long term. After all, citizens are under no obligation to comply with the edicts of an illegitimate authority.

While it is unfortunate to see elected officials like Segerblom embrace such a tactic, seeing a candidate for the state’s highest court seemingly endorse such thinking should concern all those who value constitutionally limited government.

Robert Fellner

Robert Fellner

Vice President & Director of Policy

Robert Fellner joined the Nevada Policy Research Institute in December 2013 and currently serves as the Institute’s Vice President and Director of Policy. Robert has written extensively on the issue of transparency in government. He has also conducted legal research and assisted in crafting legal arguments for numerous public records-related lawsuits, including one which prevailed at the Nevada Supreme Court, resulting in a landmark decision that protected and expanded Nevadans’ rights to access and inspect government records.

An expert on government compensation and its impact on taxes, Robert has authored multiple studies on public pay and pensions. He has been published in Business Insider, Forbes.com, the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the Los Angeles Times, the Orange County Register, RealClearPolicy.com, the San Diego Union-Tribune, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Examiner, ZeroHedge.com and elsewhere.

Robert has lived in Las Vegas since 2005 when he moved to Nevada to become a professional poker player. Robert has had a remarkably successfully poker career including two top 10 World Series of Poker finishes and being ranked #1 in the world at 10/20 Pot-Limit Omaha cash games.

Additionally, his economic analysis on the minimum wage won first place in a 2011 George Mason University essay contest. He also independently organized a successful grassroots media and fundraising effort for a 2012 presidential candidate, before joining the campaign in an official capacity.