Thursday, February 13, 2014
Legislative Immunities and Zoning Changes
Recently, the Nevada Supreme Court ruled that there was no First Amendment right of association and no unconstitutional vagueness where a city legislator was censured for voting for a zoning change on a project where he had a conflict of interest. Carrigan v Commission on Ethics of the State of Nevada, 313 P.3d 880 (NV Nov. 27, 2013). The case was on remand from the US Supreme Court, Nevada Commission on Ethics v Carrigan, 131 S Ct 2343, 180 L. Ed. 2d 150 (2011), which found that the censure of council member because of his failure to recuse himself when voting on a matter where his campaign manager was paid $10,000 a month by a developer while seeking permits from the city was not protected by any First Amendment right in casting a vote. Both cases are worth reading. Essentially, the city council member was arguing that any conflict of interest was protected by his First Amendment rights. While the analysis by the US Supreme Court was a bit unusual, relying on a historical perspective of the First Amendment, certainly the conclusion that there was no such protection seems correct.