Las Vegas Sun

May 21, 2019

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EDITORIAL:

Is this lawsuit good for Nevada, or just for Laxalt?

Is this lawsuit for Nevada’s good, or only Laxalt’s?

Adam Laxalt, the state’s new attorney general, recently signed Nevada’s name to a lawsuit that aims to overturn the Obama administration’s new immigration policy.

But the lawsuit, driven by a group of conservative attorneys general, will do nothing to help move immigration policy forward, and it certainly does nothing to help Nevada.

Why is this a priority?

This was Laxalt’s first major announcement, signaling his priorities.

So, immigration is a bigger issue than, say, prosecuting crime? Or protecting homeowners from scammers? Or pursuing fraud cases?

Laxalt defended his action by citing state law that says he is required to take action to “protect and secure” Nevada’s interests, but that logic falls short.

The only interest this seems to protect and secure is Laxalt’s apparent desire to sharpen his conservative credentials.

There is no need

That Laxalt is diverting state resources to this lawsuit is troubling because there was no need to do so. There already were more than 20 states involved when Laxalt jumped in.

Why was Nevada needed? It wasn’t. How does it protect and secure the state’s interests? It doesn’t.

The final decision, which surely will be made by the U.S. Supreme Court, will cover the entire nation.

Laxalt’s predecessor, Catherine Cortez Masto, understood that when she was asked to join a lawsuit to overturn Obamacare. She declined, saved the state plenty of money and was able instead to focus on matters vital to Nevada, such as the mortgage foreclosure crisis.

Nevada’s interest

With the highest percentage of illegal immigrants in the nation — 7.6 percent, according to the Pew Research Center — Nevada has a real interest in seeing the immigration system reformed. But this lawsuit will not do that.

If the suit is successful and a judge finds the administration’s action unconstitutional, things go back to the status quo — a broken system and stalled political debate.

A question of judgment

More importantly, this raises questions about Laxalt’s judgment.

Laxalt never spoke to Gov. Brian Sandoval, a former federal judge and state attorney general, about joining the lawsuit (although people in both offices discussed the issue.) And, as of press time, Sandoval hadn’t supported the lawsuit. Yet Laxalt decided to press ahead with his political ideology and use state resources to do so.

The answer isn’t in the courts

Sandoval doesn’t seem to see the merits of the lawsuit, and that’s not because he is a fan of the Obama immigration policy. He isn’t.

A spokeswoman said the governor wants to see the immigration system overhauled, but he “continues to believe that the best course of action is a legislative solution rather than legal action.” That is something Laxalt clearly doesn’t understand.

The bottom line

At best, Laxalt acted out of inexperience. He is a political neophyte and a relatively young lawyer. At worst, he acted to make a political name for himself.

No matter the motive, it was a bad decision that diverts his office’s attention to a lawsuit that already is being handled by other states.

Laxalt should withdraw Nevada’s participation and use his limited resources to pursue matters that other states won’t pursue — such as crime, fraud and scams within Nevada’s borders.

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