Is there a doctor on the court?
September 21, 2004
Do you think Saturday’s decision on Question 3 would have been different if the Nevada Supreme Court were composed of doctors?
But the Supreme Court is, in fact, composed of lawyers – so there was little surprise the justices decided to tell Secretary of State Dean Heller to rewrite ballot Question 3 at the last minute to make it fairer to trial lawyers and not so biased in favor of doctors.
This is the same Supreme Court (for the most part) who decided in 1996 that voters didn’t really intend to include judges in the ballot initiative mandating term limits for elected officials in Nevada.
Of course, residents already had voted on it once and approved term limits for all, including judges. But that didn’t seem to faze the high court, which separated judges from everybody else apparently because they’re special.
Nevadans then decided against term limits for judges, after a determined campaign by the State Bar Association.
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This time, it’s the doctors versus the lawyers on Questions 3, 4 and 5. The argument on Saturday was about Question 3, which is called “Keep Our Doctors in Nevada.” Believe it or not, the lawyers actually have said the ballot title is misleading because there are, indeed, doctors in Nevada.
By the way, Question 5 – proposed by lawyers – is titled the “Stop Frivolous Lawsuits and Protect Your Legal Rights Act.” Nobody’s challenged the veracity of that one?
The issue is all about limits on the amount juries can award in medical malpractice cases. But the fight is all about keeping Question 3 off the Nevada ballot. Why else, after winning on Saturday, would the lawyers have turned around and filed another complaint about the ballot language?
Supreme Court justices have now opened the door to endless challenges over the “fair” wording of ballot questions, a duty and responsibility of the secretary of state. They did so on a ballot question directly affecting members of their own profession.
If doctors took their own ethics so flippantly, we’d hate to think what might happen the next time a Supreme Court justice goes in for a physical.