Several Nevada Supreme Court justices suggested Tuesday that perhaps they should defer to Democratic Secretary of State Ross Miller to set the rules for a special election for Congress.
“Why shouldn’t we go along with the secretary of state?” asked Justice Kris Pickering during oral arguments that lasted less than one hour.
Justice James Hardesty said that when there are no clear regulations on election matters, the court should defer to the administrative decision. But he seemed to take positions on both sides of the matter Tuesday.
The case is important because it could help determine who wins the race to finish the last year of Dean Heller’s 2nd Congressional District term — and who gets the advantage of being an “incumbent” to help win a full six-year term in the 2012 election. Gov. Brian Sandoval appointed Heller to replace John Ensign in the U.S. Senate in May.
But Miller, who attended the hearing, warned against reading too much into the justices’ question. He said they could be playing devil’s advocates to better draw out the views of the lawyers.
“My experience when I was a prosecutor was you can never tell by the questions where the decision will fall,” he said.
The case is being fast-tracked, but the court gave no indication how soon it will make a decision. Miller said the decision could come before July 6, the deadline for printing ballots for the special election.