Nevada Commission on Ethics v. Corrigan

Congratulations to our own John Elwood, who briefed, argued, and just won Nevada Commission of Ethics v. Corrigan.

The Nevada Supreme Court had held that a statute that required public officials to recuse in certain cases in which they had an interest was an unconstitutional violation of the official’s First Amendment rights. The Supreme Court disagreed, because “[r]estrictions on legislators’ voting are not restrictions on legislators’ protected speech.” (The Court left open the possibility that viewpoint-based restrictions on legislators’ voting might be unconstitutional, under R.A.V. v. City of St. Paul.) That seems to me to be quite the right result.

Justice Alito concurred in part and concurred in the judgment, reasoning that such restrictions are indeed speech restrictions, but that they are constitutional, because of the long history of such restrictions (a matter that the majority also pointed to).