Three Questions: Supreme Court

Legal director of Nevada ACLU weighs in on court's recent decisions


Before recessing for summer, the U.S. Supreme Court sprinted through so many decisions, it was hard to keep up. For the nitty-gritty, we turned to Maggie McLetchie, partner in Las Vegas? Langford McLetchie law firm and former legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada.

What?s the most important decision the Supreme Court made in the last term?

The dual decisions on same-sex marriage. The first was the U.S. v. [Edith] Windsor, where the Supreme Court found the federal Defense of Marriage Act to be unconstitutional [in its relevant provision]. The second was Hollingsworth v. Perry, which struck down Proposition 8 in California, so same-sex marriage is back to being legal there. These decisions are huge. A lot of the morality in the Windsor decision reflects broader constitutional principles: If the federal government shouldn?t discriminate between same-sex and other marriages, then states shouldn?t either.

Which of the high court?s recent decisions will have the greatest impact on Southern Nevadans?

Maryland v. King, because it requires people, whether or not they?ve been convicted of a crime, to hand their DNA over to the police when they?re arrested. It?s timely in Nevada because our Legislature just passed SB 243, ?Brianna?s Law,? which will start the process for collecting arrestees? DNA in our state. The Supreme Court case upheld this practice as constitutional.

What should Nevadans know about the controversial decision that rolled back key provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965?

The Shelby County v. Holder decision didn?t undermine all aspects of the Voting Rights Act. It was really limited to states with a long history of discrimination in its voting practices, and Nevada wasn?t one of them. If anybody faces discriminatory practices, they can still go to federal court and sue.


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