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Judge Denies Nevada Citizens' Right to Personhood Ballot Initiative

by Staff
January 13, 2010
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CARSON CITY, Nevada, ( -- A ballot initiative by human rights group Personhood Nevada has been thwarted by Planned Parenthood, the ACLU, and local Judge James Russell. On Friday, January 8, Judge Russell ruled that the fourteen word amendment did not encompass a single subject, although it is comprised of merely a handful of words and is one of the most succinct ever to be filed in that State.

The proposed amendment reads, "In the great state of Nevada, the term 'person' applies to every human being." The Judge's decision declares that the people of Nevada are not entitled to vote on this matter, and that the State's very own policies and procedures to amend the Constitution through ballot initiatives should not be applied to this specific civil rights amendment.

Judge Russell was quoted by the Associated Press as saying, "The issue to me is, are we adequately informing voters on what they're voting on. There's no way for the voter to understand the effects of the initiative."

Personhood USA legal analyst Gualberto Garcia- Jones was disturbed by the Judge's comments. "Judge Russell is being disingenuous," he remarked. "There is a very simple way for the voter to understand the effect of the initiative, namely, read the 200 word description that immediately follows the 14 word ballot text. That 200 word description includes: 'This amendment codifies the inalienable right to life for everyone, young or old, healthy or ill, conscious or unconscious, born or unborn.' Judge Russell is abusing his power and jumping the gun by prejudging the effect of the law."

In 2008, Planned Parenthood sued to prevent the Colorado ballot initiative from moving forward, claiming that it was not a single subject issue, and lost the lawsuit. The initiative, although longer than the Nevada initiative, was found to be a single subject and allowed to proceed.

"This is a civil rights initiative by and for the people of Nevada. Civil rights initiatives, by their nature, tend to have broad scope, yet are still a single subject issue," explained Olaf Vancura, President of Personhood Nevada. "Under the logic and precedent of this court, ANY civil rights initiative brought forth by the people of this great state will be struck down as overly broad. We must appeal this erroneous decision, not only because the judge ruled wrongly, but for the future of Nevada."

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