Initiative Petition Was Challenged by the ACLU, other groups

LAS VEGAS - The ACLU of Nevada applauds Assemblyman Chad Christensen’s decision to withdraw the “Nevada Immigration Verification” initiative petition. The initiative petition failed to meet the threshold requirements for a ballot initiative and failed to notify voters of its expansive effects, which stretched far beyond immigration and did far more than Arizona’s controversial immigration law.

“By trying to shoehorn various topics under the supposed umbrella topic of immigration, a hot-button issue, the initiative petition was misleading. Wherever you come down on it, immigration is a complicated issue, as were the many other issues addressed by the initiative petition. Voters and signers had a right to be fully informed. With a petition that long and complicated, it just wasn’t possible,” said Maggie McLetchie attorney for the ACLU of Nevada.

Assemblyman Christensen even failed to give a valid address for the Ballot Advocacy Group that formally submitted the initiative petition, which meant that the plaintiffs in the various challenges could not properly serve papers. “Proponents of initiative petitions have a right to circulate valid petitions, but they must follow the rules in place to protect the rights of voters and to make the system fair and workable,” McLetchie said. A complaint was filed with the Secretary of State regarding the failure to provide a valid address for the Ballot Advocacy Group.

Numerous and diverse groups opposed the initiative petition, from the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, which was concerned about the impact on tourism, to a gun rights activist and the NAACP, both represented by the ACLU of Nevada. The ACLU of Nevada’s clients were concerned about the expansion of police power and the inherent risk of racial profiling.

The ACLU of Nevada will oppose any attempt to bring Arizona’s flawed immigration law to Nevada at the next legislative session. “Importing the unconstitutional Arizona law to Nevada would improperly hamper law enforcement and subject Nevada to costly litigation at a time when there is no money to spare,” explained McLetchie. “Further, while the proponents of such laws cite the costs of illegal immigration, they ignore the potential fiscal nightmare of defending the law as well as its likely very high costs of enforcement – and the sales tax and economic benefit immigrants do provide. More vitally, Nevada, which is dependent on tourism, cannot afford a boycott, nor to send a message to visitors that people who appear foreign are not welcome here.”