What Happens In Arizona Stops In Arizona: ACLU of Nevada To Challenge Effort To Bring "Show Me Your Papers" Law To Nevada

Affiliate: ACLU of Nevada
June 18, 2010 12:00 am

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Proposed Ballot Initiative Violates Nevada Constitution By Intentionally Confusing Voters


LAS VEGAS – The American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada is filing a lawsuit today in a state court in Carson City challenging a proposed ballot initiative that would bring an Arizona-like racial profiling law to Nevada. In addition to requiring police to demand identification papers from anyone they stop whom they suspect isn’t authorized to be in the U.S., the proposal would also implement discriminatory voter-identification procedures that would disfranchise U.S. citizen voters.

The lawsuit, which will be heard in the First Judicial District Court, charges that the so-called Nevada Immigration Verification ballot initiative proposed by Nevada State Assemblyman Chad Christensen is deceptive and would intentionally confuse voters and therefore should not be circulated for signatures. The proposal, the ACLU asserts, violates the Nevada Constitution’s single-subject rule by attempting to force residents of Nevada to vote on a complicated and expansive set of issues comprised of over 32 pages. Moreover, it requires expenditures without providing for revenue to pay for the new mandatory burdens imposed on local law enforcement or other costly mandates.

The lawsuit is being brought on behalf of a Ballot Advocacy Group titled “What Happens in Arizona Stops in Arizona,” the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (Las Vegas Branch 1111) and a civil liberties and gun rights activist, Robert Johnson. Robert Johnson, a Nevada taxpayer, Nevada resident, and U.S. citizen, is the current president of Gun Owners of Nevada.

“This ‘show me your papers’ ballot initiative proposes multiple measures that would result in state-sanctioned discrimination and racial profiling. Not only does the intent of the proposal blatantly violate America’s most fundamental values of fairness and equality, the expansive scope of it intentionally confuses voters,” said Maggie McLetchie, an attorney with the ACLU of Nevada. “It’s not permissible to attempt to confuse voters especially when proposing laws that would impact our fundamental rights.”

The proposed initiative mimics the controversial Arizona racial profiling law – currently being challenged by the ACLU, the NAACP and other leading civil rights groups – as well as an Indiana law requiring voters to present government-issued photo IDs in order to vote.

There is no empirical evidence of voter impersonation at the polls, and the ID requirements would disproportionately disfranchise poor, minority, elderly or disabled U.S. citizens of their right to vote because they often lack a government-issued identification.

“African-Americans know all too well the insidious effects of racial profiling and voter disfranchisement,” said Frank Hawkins Jr., President of the NAACP, Las Vegas Branch 1111. “Laws that encourage discrimination have no place on the ballot, in Arizona, Nevada or anywhere.”

“We don’t want to ruin Nevada’s reputation as a welcoming tourist destination by passing an extreme law that would essentially turn Nevada into a police state and mandate racial profiling,” said Robert Johnson. “And worse still, the proposed initiative is so long, complicated and confusing, it fails to inform signers and voters of what it really involves – the erosion of our freedoms on many fronts.”

Lawyers on the ACLU’s case include Maggie McLetchie, Lee Rowland, and Allen Lichtenstein of the ACLU of Nevada.

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