Las Vegas Sun

January 27, 2015

Currently: 52° — Complete forecast | Log in | Create an account

Sun Editorial:

Preventing justice

Heller’s unspoken opposition has stopped a nominee from a hearing

In February, President Barack Obama nominated state District Court Judge Elissa Cadish to the federal bench. It was a wise choice: Cadish has a sharp legal mind and has proven herself as a jurist in Clark County.

She should be a shoo-in but, as Sun columnist Jon Ralston reported, her nomination has been stalled. Senate tradition requires that both of a state’s senators must agree to allow a nominee a hearing, and Sen. Dean Heller has refused to do so.


Heller hasn’t publicly said why he doesn’t support Cadish, much less why he won’t agree to allow her a hearing. That’s wrong. He should explain his position. The federal courts are backlogged and in need of good judges. And Cadish, who was appointed to the state court by former Republican Gov. Jim Gibbons in 2007, is well qualified and more than capable.

Ralston reported that Heller is objecting to her answer on a 2008 campaign questionnaire that asked if she believed that “the individual citizen has a constitutional right to keep and bear arms.”

“I do not believe this is a constitutional right,” Cadish wrote. “Thus, I believe that reasonable restrictions may be imposed on gun ownership in the interest of public safety. Of course, I will enforce the laws as they exist as a judge.”

If that’s what Heller is really objecting to, thinking she is opposed to gun owners’ rights, he should think again and consider the context of her remarks.

In a letter last month to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Cadish noted that she wasn’t giving a personal opinion but was responding “based on my understanding of the state of federal law at the time.” When she filled out the questionnaire, the Supreme Court hadn’t issued a definitive decision on the issue. Given previous court decisions that existed, her conclusion was more than reasonable and a fair reading of the law at the time.

Since she filled out the questionnaire, the Supreme Court has issued two major rulings affirming an individual’s right to gun ownership, which Cadish noted in her letter to Reid.

“As a result,” she wrote, “if asked the same question today, I would say I believe that there is a constitutional right for individuals to keep and bear arms, and I would make clear that I would faithfully apply the binding precedent on this issue.”

So what does Heller object to?

Is he afraid that Cadish is an “activist judge” wedded to some sort of anti-gun ideology? If he is, he can be relieved.

In 2008, Cadish said she would “enforce the laws as they exist.” That’s why she answered as she did then and why she would answer the question differently now — because the case law has changed. And that’s exactly what a judge is supposed to do: apply the law to the facts at hand.

If Heller looks carefully at the situation, we believe he will realize that Cadish’s responses show why she would make a good federal judge: She hasn’t followed an ideological bent but has simply followed the law.

So why doesn’t she have his support?



What do you think? Send your thoughts in a letter — no more than 250 words. Include the writer’s name, address and phone number. Anonymous letters will not be considered. E-mail: [email protected].

Join the Discussion:

Check this out for a full explanation of our conversion to the LiveFyre commenting system and instructions on how to sign up for an account.

Full comments policy

Previous Discussion: 13 comments so far…

Comments are moderated by Las Vegas Sun editors. Our goal is not to limit the discussion, but rather to elevate it. Comments should be relevant and contain no abusive language. Comments that are off-topic, vulgar, profane or include personal attacks will be removed. Full comments policy. Additionally, we now display comments from trusted commenters by default. Those wishing to become a trusted commenter need to verify their identity or sign in with Facebook Connect to tie their Facebook account to their Las Vegas Sun account. For more on this change, read our story about how it works and why we did it.

Only trusted comments are displayed on this page. Untrusted comments have expired from this story.

  1. Her clearly stated opposition to a basic right clearly spelled out in the Constitution is a deal breaker for a majority of citizens of either party.

  2. If her first response wasn't a personal opinion then what is? And as Ralston pointed out in his story about this, she should have sent the letter to Heller, not Reid.

    I can understand Heller's reluctance in this matter in light of that. Thankfully, SCOTUS has sent a clear message with recent decisions in regard to DC and Chicago gun laws making it a matter of trust that Cadish would in fact abide by those rulings. Her first response indicates that she would have ruled differently had she been on that Court.

  3. "Is he afraid that Cadish is an 'activist judge' wedded to some sort of anti-gun ideology?"

    No. The answer is more simple than that.

    Heller, upon being appointed (not elected, not even popularly elected, appointed) a Nevada Senate Seat after the last one left in utter disgrace before being censured, thrown out and possibly even criminal prosecuted, was given a handbook by Ensign to continue on with the same Tea/Republican Party policies.

    Heller is a willing member of the Party of No. And he is loyal to any and all efforts that contribute to the complete and utter destruction of President Obama and his administration.

    Heller just wants to continue with the Party Of Obstruction Policy (POOP) methods of throwing monkey wrenches in gears. In his conservative brain dead mind, he don't have to come up with a reason for doing this. It's just in his bones to do what his Tea/Republican Party bosses tell him to do: Block that nomination. Toe that line, Heller, yes, sir, no, sir, three bags full, Mr. McConnell, I'll block that from happening.

    People in Nevada are going to remember all this later this year and fix it.

    Heller needs to understand he is just keeping a seat warm temporarily.

    Because this is just another in a string of reasons why the Tea/Republican Party here in Nevada is going to lose this Senate Seat in November 2012.

    I'm voting in Ms. Berkley and make sure Heller is relegated to Nevada political history for people to ridicule and laugh about in future generations. That's the only way we'll get anything done. Not only regarding this Cadish matter, but everything else to get Nevada going forwards with economic development, and not backwards with Tea/Republican Party imbecile ideals and antiquated policies.

  4. Appointed Senator Dean Heller OWES an explanation to the People of Nevada that presumably he REPRESENTS!!!

    Nothing less is expected. Nevadans should be communicating with Senator Dean Heller via telephone, email, snail mail, in person, or by fax, that an explanation is REquired. It matters not what political party, this is about 'justice for all."

    Blessings and Peace,

  5. Gee, to listen to the whackos on the left, you'd think this was the first time in the history of the USA that a federal judgeship was held up by political or any other philosophy. No mention by the ultra-lefty Colin about the appointments held up when George W. was in office by Harry the Red Reid and his fellow travelers who went so far as to filibuster nominees, thereby setting a new precedent that Republicrats use today. That was just "business as usual" and fine with ultra-leftists such as Colin. Heller's stance is not. I wonder what's the difference? Oh, yeah, it's Colin's ox that is being gored. Well, I say, fine and more power to Heller. Dumbocrats, dumb as dirt, bring these types of miseries upon themselves when they act irrationally when out of power. They deserve to be treated for what the are: cry-babies. Go suck your thumbs, Dumbocrats, pull your little blankies over your head and whine to your hearts content!

  6. "Her clearly stated opposition to a basic right clearly spelled out in the Constitution is a deal breaker for a majority of citizens of either party."

    Malous -- that same lame post again. Originally you ignored she made that comment BEFORE the U.S. Supremes set everyone straight with the Heller decision. Do try to stay relevant.

    "Appointed Senator Dean Heller OWES an explanation to the People of Nevada that presumably he REPRESENTS!!!"

    star -- and another amen to you, sister!

    "...the enshrinement of constitutional rights necessarily takes certain policy choices off the table." District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U. S., at __ (slip op., at 64) (2008)

  7. Her honest opinion is the only thing that matters.

    She went off the Dem reservation and spoke honestly.


    Partisan blather is a waste of energy and words.

    As usual partisans rally around their person and try to do ineffective damage control. Frank, sorry but it won't wash the one distorting her opinion is YOU..

  8. Re Jerry Fink: If she has a problem with what the 2nd amendment truly means, (and there is plenty of room for discussion), so what? I have guns, you (presumably) have guns, and I see no immediate threat to that status quo. If the judge is otherwise capable, then affirm her nomination, and let's get on with far more important issues.

  9. Historically ignorant partisan judges on the right or the left with a partisan axe to grind?

    No, thank you, minimize their presence every chance you get the extremes have no place ruling our lives.

    Affirm her in a position and location where she has an actual lifetime ability to follow her feelings and rule against the very plain statement of the 2nd amendment rights of the American people? If she misreads that VERY clear part of the Constitution what else is she willing to easily get rid of in the name of her feelings?

    Or is it possibly not "feelings' but a deliberate partisan take on the deliberate devolution of the Constitution rather than an innocent but pitifully ignorant misreading of the verbiage and intent?

    This also indicates, on her part, a woefully deficient knowledge of Constitutional intent, law, and the actual history of America.

    Maybe she'll casually get rid of YOUR rights under that or another part of the constitution instead of simply looking at the situation in light of the actual Constitution and the case before her.

  10. Re Dennis Hill: Your comment is bulls**t on it's face. The current SCOTUS is as political a body as I've ever seen. Screw the 2nd amendment if that is your only reason to deny her confirmation. If you own guns, you know already that your "rights" haven't been compromised. Thanks to the NRA, they never will be. Let's confirm the judge on her TOTAL MERITS, and not some knee jerk gun rights crap. I own guns, and will continue to own them, as will (I presume) you.

  11. Nice Gary logical? nope. historically accurate? nope.

    And "screw the 2nd amendment" shows how woefully you lack an understanding of the fragile underpinnings of our entire constitutional system.

    Yes, one day you may still own guns and so what? If you must be a criminal to do so does that validate choosing her?

    Enough PBS.....

  12. Re Dennis Hill. "Nice Gary logical"? What the hell does that mean? And yes, screw the 2nd amendment; it's just another archaic bunch of gibberish that can be interpreted any way someone wants to interpret it. Paranoia has never been my bag; I will have my guns no matter what somebody says to the contrary. I am not and never have been a criminal, but let's be clear, criminals will ALWAYS HAVE GUNS! No judge will make any difference regarding who has guns and who doesn't.

  13. It means "nope".

    And your last reply as nice as it is does not take into account the reality of gun control in America.

    History where the 2nd amendment was casually ignored in an American City:

    In NYNY until 1910 people had lots of LEGAL guns.

    People used to routinely use the trolley system or city streets to go to local shooting parlors (gun ranges) and to Long Island to shoot long range rifles they kept in their houses.

    Then they passed the Sullivan Act in 1911, and immediately, all unpermitted guns were illegal in NYNY. Police made raids to "recover" firearms that had been legal until then. Citizens who were not wealthy or influential and who used guns to defend themselves were imprisoned for defending themselves with "illegal" firearms.

    People who were used to keeping their guns at home or carrying firearms were lucky to just have their guns confiscated without recompense. Some WERE arrested and jailed for doing so.

    Yes, middle class people thought they would keep their guns because the law couldn't apply to them? After all, the law was designed and intended to keep the minorities (this included new European immigrants) unarmed, not, "us."

    The wealthy then had to use their influence to get permits to have their guns at home let alone on the streets. Unfortunately for the poor and middle class they had no way to get permits; so they lost their right to own guns legally. Those who kept them secretly became criminals overnight.

    Yes, it has happened here in America.

    yes, it CAN happen again in America.