NE Supreme Court hears gambling petition appeal

The center of the case is determining whether each of the three measures is posing one or two...
The center of the case is determining whether each of the three measures is posing one or two questions. A decision that’s been left up to the supreme court but a case that ultimately might end up elsewhere.(NET)
Published: Sep. 2, 2020 at 9:15 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - Nebraska voters are waiting on the Nebraska Supreme Court to see if gambling will be on the November ballot.

Arguments were heard Wednesday afternoon on a challenge after Secretary of State Bob Evnen pulled it off the ballot last week.

The cases is centered on determining whether each of the three initiatives is posing one or two questions.

Wednesday, the defense, Keep the Money in Nebraska, argued that all three questions have a necessary and natural connection, but voters would be voting on three separate things.

“Those words in our constitution dictate that the three measures before the court, each of which only contains one subject, be present for separate votes at the next general election,” said Andre Barry, the groups’ lawyer.

The state argued the reverse, saying each question is about two separate items, which violates the Nebraska Constitution’s one-subject law.

“I don’t think just hooking it together by conjunction words like, and, this, and, that is sufficient,” said J.L Spray with the State. “I think if there’s two separate things to wonder about, that’s two subjects.”

The state also argued challenges like this typically go to the district court, not the Nebraska Supreme Court.

“Two other challenges to the payday lending measures filed suit in Lancaster County District Court on Friday,” said David Lopez with the State. “Then another one rolled in a couple of days ago on Monday, so clearly they think it’s available.”

Both sides referenced a Nebraska Supreme Court case known as Loontjer vs. Gale. It requires constitutional amendments, like the ones proposed here, be voted on separately on distinct and independent subjects.

Whether that’s actually the case is where the two sides differed.

“Loontjer also held that the legislature, the way they should have addressed that issue and this is a quote, ’To present the proposals to the voters for separate votes,’ and that’s what the sponsors did here,” said Barry.

At adjournment on Wednesday, the Supreme Court didn’t issue a timeline. Finalized ballots are due by September 11.

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