Nevada Supreme Court overturns ballot ruling on ‘Axe the Tax’ group
November 10, 2004
The Nevada Supreme Court ruled Wednesday public bodies can impose some restrictions on those gathering petition signatures.
The decision overturns the district court ruling in the case of Nevadans for Sound Government – the group which was trying to get questions on the November ballot that would repeal the tax increases passed by the 2003 Legislature and stopping all government employees from serving in the Legislature.
The lower court essentially removed most restrictions on where petition gatherers could be. Officials from the Regional Transportation Commission and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas appealed saying the ruling went too far and that some rules for allowing signature gathering on public property were reasonable and not in violation of First-Amendment rights.
The high court agreed some of the restrictions imposed by the Regional Transportation Commission in Reno were too strict. The key issues there were RTC’s requirement petition gatherers give three days advance notice before they could collect names at the Citifare bus terminal in Reno and that they allow themselves to be put in an area where bus customers didn’t even come near them.
The justices said there is nothing unreasonable in requiring those circulating petitions to provide advance notice they are coming and providing contact information to the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and RTC. The court also ruled UNLV and RTC were within their rights to put some limits on where petition gatherers can be to prevent them from blocking building exits and blocking movement of people.
As part of the ruling, the court noted that nothing in the “time place and manner” restrictions discriminates among different petitioners.
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The court also reversed the lower court ruling on UNLV’s restrictions. The university had argued there was nothing wrong in applying some restrictions to petition gatherers seeking to gather around a private event by a non-government entity. They said petition gatherers couldn’t claim practically unlimited access to those private events just because they were being held on public property.
The justices agreed.
The opinion was signed by all justices except Michael Douglas, who voluntarily recused himself from the case.
Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at firstname.lastname@example.org or 687-8750.