Next Step in Separation of Powers Case Set for Feb. 6

Kevin Dietrich

Oral arguments in Nevada Policy’s separation of powers lawsuit will be heard by the Nevada Supreme Court beginning at 2 p.m., Feb. 6, in the Las Vegas courthouse.

This represents the latest step in Nevada Policy’s decade-plus effort to highlight the problems – constitutional and otherwise – with legislative dual service in the Silver State.

Not only does the Nevada Constitution clearly prohibit legislators from exercising “any” non-legislative governmental function, but permitting government employees to serve as legislators leads to a legislature that increasingly serves the needs of government, rather than the people.

“The conflict occurs when legislators become the beneficiaries of the taxation they themselves voted into law,” Nevada Policy President John Tsarpalas said. “Does the dual-serving legislator support higher taxes because it is in the best interest of Nevadans or because it serves the needs of their employer?”

Several of the dual-serving legislators hold state or local government positions with such public entities as the Clark County School District, the Washoe County School District and UNLV.

Government differs from private sector employers in that the former can claim the legitimate use of force and coercion, most notably through taxation. The state’s separation of powers clause is designed to give Nevadans ultimate authority over this coercive power through their elected representatives in the legislature.

The dual-serving legislators have argued that the separation of powers provision should be construed to apply only to public officers and not mere public employees.

“The government’s argument fails because it conflicts with both the plain text of the state constitution and the Nevada Supreme Court’s own binding precedent,” Nevada Policy’s Robert Fellner said.

Oral arguments are scheduled for 30 minutes, with each party receiving 15 minutes. Oral arguments are the last step in the process before a ruling is issued.

There is no time frame for how long it will take the Nevada Supreme Court to issue a ruling, but it is expected to be six to nine months.

Kevin Dietrich

Kevin Dietrich

Kevin Dietrich joined Nevada Policy in 2022.

He has more than 20 years of experience in communications, including serving as the director of communications and marketing for the South Carolina Bankers Association, working as a speechwriter for South Carolina governor Mark Sanford and assisting with internal communications for CVS Caremark.

Kevin graduated from the University of Maine with a degree in Journalism and a minor in History. A fifth-generation Californian, he spent a decade as a journalist, working for newspapers in Florida, New York, New Hampshire and South Carolina.