NPRI files brief in suit opposing state workers’ holding office
July 31, 2012
The Nevada Policy Research Institute has filed an opening brief in its lawsuit challenging the right of state employees to serve in the Legislature.
The suit was ruled moot by Carson City District Judge Todd Russell after state Sen. Mo Denis, D-Las Vegas, resigned his position as an IT professional with the Public Utilities Commission.
Joseph Becker, the head of NPRI’s Center for Justice and Constitutional Litigation, said he has filed its opening brief with the Nevada Supreme Court to overturn that ruling, saying the lawsuit raises an important principle and seeks to “restore the separation-of-powers clause” of Nevada’s Constitution.
Becker cited the public interest as a compelling exemption to the mootness doctrine. That section of the constitution divides state government into three separate branches – legislative, judicial and executive – and states that “no persons charged with the exercise of powers properly belonging to one of these departments shall exercise any functions appertaining to either of the others. …”
He argues that that section “makes it perfectly clear that a sitting legislator cannot hold a job in the executive or judicial branch of government.” Despite that, the appeal asserts, six current legislators hold jobs in other branches of state government.