The Nevada Supreme Court upheld a ruling allowing state Republicans to nominate one candidate to represent the party in a special election to fill the House of Representatives seat vacated by U.S. Senator Dean Heller.
In May, a lower court judge ruled in favor of the Nevada Republican Party and barred Secretary of State Ross Miller, a Democrat, from declaring a “free-for-all” election in which candidates could nominate themselves. The Supreme Court agreed and ruled in a 6-1 decision that although the state law is “ambiguous” deferring to Miller was not appropriate in this case.
“Reasonable policy arguments exist on both sides of the question of how a special election ballot should be populated,” the court said. “The policy choice is for the legislature, not the court. But in assessing the meaning of the election statutes involved in this appeal, we look at existing law and historical practice, which the legislature did not disavow.”
Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval appointed Heller in April to succeed fellow Republican John Ensign in the U.S. Senate. Ensign, the subject of a Senate ethics inquiry stemming from an extramarital affair, resigned in May. A special election is scheduled for Sept. 13 for the district that encompasses almost the entire state outside of Las Vegas and that city’s suburbs.