Why separation of powers matters: Praising Sen. Kieckhefer and Assemblywoman Flores for getting it right

Victor Joecks

Freedom is fragile. The separation of powers in government is essential to preserving liberty and stopping government overreach.

To have up to 20 percent of Nevada’s legislators take an oath to uphold Nevada’s constitution and then violate its third article by working for an executive- or judicial-branch employer is a real danger to liberty.

The good news is that many legislators understand this and respect Article 3, Section 1 – even though, for some of them, it meant finding different full-time employment.

Sen. Ben Kieckhefer left his job with DHHS after he was elected to the Senate, precisely because of his respect for the separation of powers.

Before her election as assemblywoman, Lucy Flores worked for the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. In fact, I made mistakenly included her on NPRI’s list of legislators who also have or had employment in the executive or judicial branch while serving in the legislature.

Only minutes after CJCL filed its case last week, Assemblywoman Flores called me and let me know that she no longer worked for an executive-branch agency precisely because she didn’t want to have to deal with this issue.

That respect for the constitution and her actions should be applauded.

According to her campaign website, Sen. Allison Copening resigned from executive-branch employment to run for office. I don’t know if she left her executive-branch job, because she didn’t want to violate the constitution or if she needed the time to campaign, but regardless, it was the right decision.

Although there are many legislators who are clearly violating Nevada’s constitution, there are also legislators – of both parties – who respect the constitution. And that’s a very good thing.