In its long delayed ruling, the Nevada Supreme Court ruled 4-2 that judges are not subject to the state’s recall law. Both the ruling and the dissent hold that judges are “public officers” as provided for in the recall law, but the majority ruled that the recall law was superseded by the 1976 creation of the Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline. According to the majority, the fact that the act creating the Commission didn’t specifically mention recalls removed the recall as an option for future judges.
My recommendation is to read the dissent as I think the majority decision is a poorly reasoned one. The majority ruling is a very tortured way to protect judges from the recall — one that other states very clearly don’t follow. Allowing for impeachment or removal by a commission is very common — it is odd and extremely unlikely that voters were voting to remove the recall at the same time that they were putting forth another method of removing judges.Nevada happens to have a very challenging recall law, thanks to another unusual Supreme Court ruling in 2010 that severely constricted the voters’ ability to use recalls (a decision later signed into law with a later bill. Both may actually violate federal law as stated in Bush v. Gore).