Judge won’t force Sisolak to open Nevada bars
LAS VEGAS — A Nevada judge has rejected a bid to force Gov. Steve Sisolak to lift a bar closure order he re-imposed July 27 to prevent people from gathering and spreading COVID-19.
An attorney for 62 area bars didn’t immediately respond Tuesday to messages about whether he’ll appeal Judge Kerry Earley’s order late Monday endorsing the governor’s decision to close bars as within his power and “rationally related to a legitimate governmental purpose.”
The attorney, Dennis Kennedy, conceded during a hearing last week that the governor, a Democrat, had authority to invoke emergency power during the coronavirus pandemic and impose closures to promote public safety.
But Kennedy argued the move was killing businesses.
The judge rejected arguments by Craig Newby, deputy state solicitor, that emergency directives can’t be challenged in court based on allegations of lack of constitutional due process or violation of equal protection rights.
However, she decided that Sisolak’s directive was rationally aimed at preventing people from gathering and spreading the virus by “congregating for long periods of time, like inside a bar.”
The governor said restaurants can be open with tables spaced apart, but he banned bar-top seating.
Kennedy argued that most taverns rely on revenue from bar-top video gambling machines that are now off-limits due to the governor’s directive.