Sunday, June 19, 2011

Supreme Court Upholds Nevada’s Law on Conflict of Interest

The Supreme Court on Monday unanimously rejected a First Amendment challenge to a Nevada law that barred officials there from voting on matters in which they had a conflict of interest. Such legislative recusal laws are common, and a decision striking them down or even subjecting them to strict First Amendment scrutiny would have reshaped politics across the nation.

But Justice Antonin Scalia, writing for the court, said the issue was straightforward. Voting, he wrote, is not speech protected by the First Amendment.

The Nevada law requires elected officials to disqualify themselves, much as judges often do, when they are asked to vote on matters that touch on what the law called a “commitment in a private capacity to the interests of others.”

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