Last edited: December 05, 2004

Nevada ACLU Hails Supreme Court Rulings

Las Vegas Sun, June 26, 2003
Box 4275, Las Vegas, NV 89107
Fax: 702-383-7264

By Sandra Chereb, Associated Press

RENO, Nev.—Nevada civil libertarians are hailing U.S. Supreme Court decisions on sodomy and affirmative action as victories for personal freedoms. Some conservative groups countered Thursday that the court’s rulings erode states’ rights and condone preferential treatment for minorities.

“At one level, the national office called it a historic term of the Supreme Court,” said Richard Siegel, president of the American Civil Liberties Union in Nevada.

“In my view, we had several huge victories for our side,” said Siegel, a political science professor at the University of Nevada, Reno.

Siegel and ACLU General Counsel Allen Lichtenstein in Las Vegas said the high court’s ruling that struck down a Texas law against gay sex strengthens legal arguments for other personal liberties, including gay marriage and abortion rights.

A Nevada law on sodomy as it pertains to consenting adults in private was abolished 10 years ago.

Still, Siegel called the court’s ruling an “enormous victory ... not only for the issue of sexual privacy, which the court was dealing with specifically, but for equal protection.”

It also gives legal weight to the principle of personal privacy, a key element to the court’s landmark Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion in 1973, he said.

Lichtenstein was cautious when weighing the sodomy ruling’s implications for Nevada’s constitutional ban on gay marriages. The ban won final voter approval in November when Question 2 was passed overwhelmingly.

The case didn’t specifically address gay marriage, he said.

“I don’t want to overstate it,” he said. “The rationale with Question 2 had to do with how we needed to protect ourselves from homosexuals, which is something today the court clearly rejected.”

Janine Hansen, president of the conservative Nevada Eagle Forum in Reno, said the ruling diminishes the rights of states to govern family law.

“It’s unfortunate that the state’s authority is being abrogated by the Supreme Court,” she said. “States ought to be able to make their own laws regarding that.”

Richard Ziser, chairman of the Coalition for the Protection of Marriage that spearheaded the Question 2 campaign, could not be reached for immediate comment. . . . [The rest is about other Court decisions.]

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