Nevada Court Upholds Sisolak Bar Closure Order

  • Governor Steve Sisolak ordered bars in select Nevada counties to close on July 10
  • Judge ruled order does not contravene equal protection or due process rights of businesses
  • Plaintiffs’ alleged economic rights not recognized as fundamental constitutional rights
  • Standalone slot machines can now be temporarily placed next to bar tops in Nevada bars
  • Clark, Nye, Washoe have until Thursday to submit action plan to state's COVID-19 task force
facade of the Regional Justice Center Court House building in Las Vegas
A Clark County court rejected a lawsuit brought against the state by 62 plaintiffs who were seeking to overturn Gov. Sisolak’s closure of bars and taverns in Nevada. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Judge rejects 62-plaintiff lawsuit

Clark County district court judge Kerry Earley has rejected a lawsuit brought against the state by 62 plaintiffs seeking to overturn closures of bars and taverns in Nevada. The verdict upholds Governor Steve Sisolak’s July 10 order to shutter establishments that exclusively serve alcohol in select Nevada counties.

Judge Earley ruled Monday that the order does not contravene the equal protection or due process rights of the businesses belonging to the said bar and tavern owners.

not recognized as fundamental constitutional rights”

Acknowledging bars and taverns’ worth to the local economy, the judge said the plaintiffs’ alleged economic rights “are not recognized as fundamental constitutional rights”. However, she didn’t rule entirely in favor of the state’s defendants, which included Sisolak, Nevada Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske, and Nevada Chief Deputy Scott Anderson.

The court rejected state contention that a governor’s emergency directives cannot undergo judicial review. Judge Earley deemed the definition of an emergency and the way to subsequently tackle it as “not pure policy choices that fall within the doctrine of non-justiciable political questions.”

Embattled Sisolak comes out on top

Ultimately, the plaintiffs’ claim of a due process violation failed. According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the reason was that the 62 businesspeople “did not show how the directive was arbitrary and unreasonable, with no bearing on public health, safety or welfare.”

businesspeople “did not show how the directive was arbitrary and unreasonable”

The C Miller S Tavern, Plaintiff(s) vs State of Nevada legal battle began on July 14, when the court injunction was filed just four days after Sisolak’s controversial decree on bar closures.

Bars and taverns in the Silver State were first closed in March. They were allowed to reopen May 29 under Nevada’s phased recovery plan. Sisolak reinstated the closures in select counties on July 10 to combat a spike in COVID-19 cases.

Light at the end of the tunnel

Last Friday, the Nevada Gaming Control Board issued an order permitting standalone slot machines to be temporarily placed next to bar tops in gaming-licensed bars. Embedded bar-top slots, however, remain forbidden in the state.  

Since the July 10 decree, Nevada has initiated new grading measures for reopening closed businesses and bars, which includes those located in Elko, Clark, Nye, and Washoe. These counties have until August 20 to submit an action plan to Nevada’s COVID-19 task force for approval.

Clark and Washoe have been hardest hit by the closures, as they encompass the casino heartlands of Las Vegas Valley and Reno.