Attorney General Laxalt Issues Statement Following Court Decision Dismissing Background Check Lawsuit

August 20, 2018

Carson City, NV – Today, Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt applauded a Nevada District Court’s decision to toss out a lawsuit brought by the proponents of Nevada’s stillborn Background Check Act, also known as Question 1. The lawsuit sought to shift the blame for the broken initiative from its drafters to Nevada Attorney General Adam Paul Laxalt and Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval. The Court, in a comprehensive 22-page opinion, ruled that “as a matter of law, […] given the undisputed efforts to implement The Background Check Act, it is unenforceable as written.” The Court rejected each of the proponents’ legal claims, noting that their “arguments have shifted throughout this case” and that they “failed to provide this Court with any authority even remotely supporting” their legal argument. The Court also repeatedly commented on the falsity of the proponent’s factual allegations, observing that they “ignore the facts.” The Court chastised the proponents for their “charged” and “emotional appeals,” explaining they were “unfounded,” “without supporting evidence,” and “improperly placed before the judiciary.”

    “The Court’s 22-page decision reaffirms what my office has been saying all along—that the Act ‘is unenforceable as written,’” said AG Laxalt. “This is not because of anything that I or other Nevada officials have failed to do; in the words of the Court, we have ‘undertaken a real and substantial effort to implement the law.’ Rather, it is a result of Question 1’s flawed drafting. It is unfortunate that the very same people who imposed this defective law on all Nevadans have gone to such lengths to use its brokenness as a reason to politically attack me and other Nevada’s elected officials through litigation. Hopefully, today’s careful decision puts an end to this practice.”

      The judge’s order reaffirms that the Attorney General’s opinion “correctly identified and exposed several errors” in challengers’ misrepresentations about the 2016 ballot initiative. Shortly after the Question 1 initiative was passed, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) wrote to the Nevada Department of Public Safety (DPS) on two occasions stating that they would not conduct the background checks for Nevada because, among other reasons, a state law cannot mandate how federal resources are allocated. In a December 28, 2016 formal opinion requested by DPS, the Office of the Nevada Attorney General correctly opined that the law could not be implemented without the FBI’s cooperation.

        The Court’s decision is attached.