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The Libertarian

Vin Suprynowicz

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As her opponent, District Judge Nancy Saitta, surged to a 5-point lead in the polls last week, it began to appear voters are indeed “getting it” about Nevada Supreme Court Justice Nancy Becker, the first member of the high court that created the odious “Guinn v. Legislature” decision to face the voters since that 2003 travesty.

The court itself has since specifically repudiated that outlaw ruling, which held that -- even though the Legislature had plenty of money left to meet the constitutional requirement to fund the public schools, even though there was thus no “conflict” to resolve -- lawmakers could ignore a constitutional requirement for a two-thirds majority, and simply hike taxes by a simple majority vote.

In fact, this led to precisely the result the activist court wanted. To “avoid a constitutional crisis,” a single Republican lawmaker broke ranks and approved the largest tax hike in state history.

The author of that high court decision, Deborah Agosti, wisely declined to face the voters (citing “health reasons”), but seems healthy enough to continue sitting on cases as a “senior judge” -- a position she can hold forever without voters ever having a chance to fire her, thanks to the cynical maneuverings of her cohort, Nancy Becker.

Disingenuous as ever, Justice Becker denies responsibility for the result of the Guinn v. Legislature ruling, which won Nevada nationwide criticism and ridicule. “It is the responsibility of the Legislature to raise taxes,” Justice Becker simpered last week.

No, Justice Becker. Under the constitutional provision which you and Justice Agosti overruled, in violation of your scared oaths to protect and defend the constitution, it is the responsibility of one-third-plus-one of the members of the Legislature to block unnecessary tax hikes. But you didn’t like to see them standing up for their constituents and against your friends the bureaucrats and the special interests, did you?

“We can’t make decisions in favor of special interest groups,” Justice Becker replies.

Aha. Perhaps we’ve finally found that mug shot we’ve been looking for, to place in the dictionary next to the definition of “hypocrite.”

There is no greater “special interest” active in state politics today than the state employees unions, who want to see more and more of our treasure larded on inefficient, counterproductive, unaccountable government “programs.” And What a Friend They Have in Nancy.

Where did the court come up with the nonsense rationale it dared to present with a straight face in Guinn v. Legislature?

Resigning over the travesty, Carol L. Chaffee, a staff attorney in the civil division of the Nevada Supreme Court, wrote in August, 2003: “Last month’s proceedings ... undermined my confidence in the court’s integrity.

“I always trusted that (the court’s decisions) were untainted by political influence,” Ms. Chaffee continued. “I am no longer sure that that is true. I am sure, however, that this court’s opinion in Guinn v. Legislature was not founded on a fair, measured and reasonable interpretation of law. ... I cannot justify it on any judicial basis. ... I am also sure that the Education Associations and their counsel could not have so precisely tailored their amicus brief to address this court’s specific concerns based only on the court’s public announcement and its order directing an answer. And that disturbs me even more profoundly than the court’s opinion.”

Here, then, is the answer to our question. Nancy Becker and her gang, who “can’t make decisions in favor of special interest groups,” let the bloated and greedy teachers unions write the decision for them.

When courageous District Judge Don Chairez ruled that the city of Las Vegas couldn’t seize the retail block of the Pappas family and turn it over to the downtown casino barons for an unnecessary parking garage that sat nearly vacant for years, calling that a “public use,” the Pappas family appealed to the state Supreme Court, hoping for justice.

How naive.

Justice Becker and her partners had to decide between the interests of this local widow and her family that had been keeping up and paying property taxes on their downtown properties since before the completion of the Hoover Dam ... and the “special interests” who wanted to make sure the Pappas family could never lease that land to any potential casino competitor.

And for whom do you think Ms. Becker and the culprits of the court ruled? Why, for the “special interests,” of course!

Who was personally responsible for promoting the new downtown Regional Justice Center, which became legendary for construction delays and taxpayer cost overruns, and which still doesn’t have enough parking or elevators to carry everyone 20 stories up to their new “44-seats-are-enough” courtrooms in time to avoid default judgments each morning?

Why, look here. It’s Nancy Becker!

And who went along as the court decided to gut the “PISTOL” Property Rights initiative -- the one written by Judge Chairez and others specifically to reverse the injustice of decisions like the Pappas case -- and to tear up entirely Bob Beers’ Tax and Spending Control initiative, making sure voters wouldn’t have a chance to vote on the question, to set any cap at all on big-government spending in Carson City?

Why, our old friend Nancy Becker, of course. Talk about an All-star. She’s a triple threat!

Nancy Becker is not the only embarrassing clown to have made the Nevada Supreme Court a national laughingstock of “how can we help big government today?” cynicism. But she’s the biggest, and the worst, and she’s on the ballot Tuesday.

As the Las Vegas Review-Journal editorialized three years ago, “Six members of the state’s highest court have ruled that restraints on government power in the state constitution may be disregarded if they inconvenience lawmakers. That is so outrageous and so offensive, voters who feel strongly about the integrity of the state constitution have little choice but to consider efforts to strip these justices of their seats.”

The time has come. Nancy Becker must go.