Republicans Urge Court to Overturn Tax Decision

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A group of Republican lawmakers asked the nation's top court to overturn a Nevada Supreme Court ruling that invalidated a requirement that a tax increase get the support of two-thirds of the state Legislature.

John Eastman, director of the Claremont Center at the Chapman University School of Law, filed the petition Tuesday on behalf of 24 Republicans challenging the state Supreme Court's 6-1 decision in July temporarily voiding the two-thirds requirement.

"(The case) presents important questions of federal constitutional law that have not been, but should be, addressed by this court," Eastman said in his petition.

Eastman said the typical chances of getting the U.S. Supreme Court to hear a case are one in 100.

"But I think the odds are significantly greater than that in this case," he said. "Would I say even money? No."

Fifteen states have supermajority rules for tax increases, and the Nevada Supreme Court decision is a challenge to all of them, Eastman said.

The parties probably will not hear from the court on whether it will take the case until mid-March, Eastman said. If the court does, the case would be put on next year's calendar for argument.

Eastman contends the state Supreme Court ruling violates the U.S. Constitution because it overturned votes of the people.

Nevada voters in 1994 and 1996 approved a change in the Nevada Constitution to impose the two-thirds supermajority on taxes.

The Nevada Supreme Court said its ruling applied only to the situation that existed in the 2003 legislative sessions, with its unfunded public education budget, and not to future tax debates.

But Eastman and others argue the ruling could be used as a precedent for future attempts to get around the two-thirds requirement in Nevada and elsewhere.