Las Vegas Sun

June 24, 2019

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Where I Stand:

Heller can stand up for Nevadans. Will he?


We kept telling everyone this would happen. We kept saying that votes matter. We kept warning that the Supreme Court and constitutional decision-making for the next 30 years was too important to leave to the political whims of ideologues. It was like whistling in the wind.

And now, with the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy, our nightmare scenario — which is a reversal of an entire century of sane, humane and commonsense decisions — is that much closer to reality.

The good news for Nevadans is that our own Sen. Dean Heller has the power to ensure for our state and our country the confirmation of a deserving, distinguished and demonstrably moderating voice, just like Kennedy’s has been for 30 years, for the next generation.

The reason I say this is because the U.S. Senate is controlled by Republicans by the slimmest of margins, 51-49. If President Donald Trump decides to nominate another far-right jurist — which will practically ensure the overturning of Roe v. Wade and reversal of the health care momentum we have achieved, turning back the clock on commonsense gun legislation and throwing away for a very long time the idea that people who love each other can also marry each other — his choice will be rubber-stamped.


Unless Heller stands up for Nevada voters and their overwhelming support of the kinds of issues discussed above. Nevadans want moderation, especially from the Supreme Court, which holds the sanity key in the all-too-often political contentiousness of Washington, D.C.

There was a time when the Supreme Court was the last, best hope for regular Americans who had no power to sway elections in the House, Senate or White House. The Supreme Court was the arbiter of all things constitutional, which meant that the little guy had a fighting chance in this country.

That won’t happen if Trump gets his way and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., jams an ideologue down our throats and onto the high court.

That is where Heller comes in. He has told Nevadans he favored health care for everyone and that he will would support Planned Parenthood, which is often the primary care provider for many women in our state. He has told his constituents that he favored a woman’s right to decide for herself her own medical decisions — without the government weighing in or imposing the will of others on the individual woman.

And Heller has told anyone who will listen to him that he believes we have an obligation to protect and defend the environment so that future generations will be able to enjoy the Earth and all it has to offer.

So, now our good senator has the chance to make good on all of his promises to act in the interests of Nevadans.

If he stands up to Trump and just says “no” to any nominee who isn’t at least as fair and open-minded and independent as Justice Kennedy has been, Heller will force the Republicans and the president to move closer to the middle of jurisprudential thought. If he refuses to stand up to the right-wing dogma in D.C., then he will single-handedly reverse all of the good that has been done in the name of regular working people.

For not even Donald Trump can risk upsetting another GOP senator once his margin is cut to zero. There are three or four moderating senators in the Republican Party who, given the ability to force the president to pick someone like Kennedy, will most likely do just that.

But it won’t happen unless Dean Heller stands up first.

We aren’t asking for much, Sen. Heller. Just save health care, save a woman’s right to choose, save gay marriage, protect the Dreamers and the babies at the border, and stand up for working men and women. That can’t be that hard, especially since Nevadans will be standing right there with you.

Our country continues to cleave down the middle or close to it. The Supreme Court is one of the few institutions left that can keep us from coming apart.

This is Dean’s chance to stand up for Nevada. Just tell the president “no way” when it comes to stacking the court to the far right. The voters will be grateful.

Brian Greenspun is editor, publisher and owner of the Sun.