U.S. Supreme Court May Wight Two-Thirds Issue

U.S. Supreme Court
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U.S. Supreme Court justices could announce Monday whether they will take up a controversial Nevada court ruling that critics contend could make it easier to raise state taxes.

The case was distributed to justices for discussion Friday at a private conference, according to the court's Web site. Any decisions reached during internal conferences customarily are disclosed the following Monday.

If the justices agree to consider the case, it would likely be scheduled for oral arguments during the court session that begins in October, attorneys have said.

If the justices decline to take up the matter, the case will not necessarily be over since it is also being appealed. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is scheduled to hear arguments in April.

The U.S. Supreme Court has been asked by Republicans in the state Legislature to overturn a Nevada Supreme Court ruling that at least temporarily overruled a section of the state constitution.

The state court, in a 6-1 decision in July, invalidated a requirement in the Nevada Constitution that taxes could only be raised with two-thirds support of each chamber of the Legislature.

Nevada voters in 1994 and 1996 approved the constitutional requirement for a two-thirds majority on taxes.

Fifteen states have similar majority rules for tax increases, and lawyers for the Republican lawmakers told the U.S. Supreme Court the Nevada court decision could amount to a challenge to all of them.

Lawyers representing the Legislature have urged the Supreme Court to reject the petition, saying the case is moot. The Legislature ultimately approved an $833 million tax increase by a two-thirds votes in the Senate and Assembly.