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Here's how some of the other SCOTUS rulings could affect Nevadans

Supreme Court
Erin Schaff/The New York Times via AP, Pool

FILE - Members of the Supreme Court pose for a group photo at the Supreme Court in Washington, April 23, 2021. Seated from left are Associate Justice Samuel Alito, Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, Chief Justice John Roberts, Associate Justice Stephen Breyer and Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Standing from left are Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh, Associate Justice Elena Kagan, Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch and Associate Justice Amy Coney Barrett.

The 2020 to 2022 term of the U.S. Supreme Court will likely be remembered as one of the most controversial in history.

Of course, the overturning of Roe v. Wade was big. But the court also made decisions on guns, school vouchers, climate change and how government can enforce regulations.

And they continued with a ruling that could weaken the separation of church and state and another that limits tribal government sovereignty.

Many of those rulings could affect how Nevadans live their lives.

SECOND AMENDMENT: New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen

The U.S. Supreme Court, in a 6-3 opinion along ideological lines, ruled that New York's restrictions on the concealed carry of firearms in public violates the Second Amendment.

The opinion, written by Justice Clarence Thomas, invalidates the state's requirement for people to show "proper cause" to get public carry licenses.

Could this affect Nevadans?  

“It doesn't seem likely,” said Allison Anderman, the senior counsel and director of local policy for the Giffords Law Center. “Because part of New York's law at issue in the case was its proper cause requirement. So, the requirement that someone has a reason to carry in public outside of a general desire for self-defense, there were eight states including New York at the time that had such a proper cause requirement. Nevada is not one of those states. And the Supreme Court was pretty clear in the opinion that nothing else in New York's law regarding public carry was at issue in the case and those statutes could stand otherwise.”

Though, the eight states includes California and covers about 25% of the U.S. population.

Anderman said research has shown that states with weak concealed carry laws have significantly higher rates of violent crime and gun homicides.

“There are going to likely be more people carrying guns in public, it's going to be harder to ensure that these people are doing so lawfully, it will be harder for law enforcement. And it's going to impact all of us,” Anderman said.

CLIMATE CHANGE: West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency

For two decades, Congress has failed to pass standalone climate change legislation.

That left the Obama White House to rely on the 1970 Clean Air Act in order to craft regulations that would reduce greenhouse gas emissions from power plants, currently the second most carbon-polluting sector in the country.

In its opinion in West Virginia v. the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Supreme Court has now curbed what actions the Biden White House can take under that law.

Could this affect Nevadans?  

Nevada has two coal-fired plants remaining and they’re scheduled for retirement within 18 months.

But, according to Angelyn Tabalba with Nevada Conservation League, “We need every tool in the toolbox to significantly curb climate pollution, and sort of accelerate to cleaner energy. And the reason that this is important for Nevada is because we don't need to leave our homes to understand the impacts of the climate crisis.”

She said it could open room to change environmental law elsewhere, including Nevada.

“While the decision was primarily on [decarbonization in West Virginia], it doesn't mean it won't set the stage for other environmental regulations and policies to be rolled back as well,” she said.


The U.S. Supreme Court handed school choice advocates a major victory.

By a 6-3 vote along ideological lines, the court opened the door further for those seeking taxpayer funding for religious schools.

In its clearest statement to date, the court said that if a state uses taxpayer money to pay for students attending nonreligious private schools, it must also use taxpayer funds to pay for attendance at religious schools. For all practical purposes, the decision thus invalidates provisions in 37 state constitutions that ban the direct or indirect use of taxpayer money in religious schools.

Could this affect Nevadans?  

Nevada once had its own school voucher program, the education savings account. Amanda Morgan, the legal director for Educate Nevada Now, said it was challenged in court.

“We have kind of unique language here in Nevada in our constitution that says education must be funded first and foremost. And then everything else in the budget. And what happened here was, well, they funded education, and then they were kind of taking it out of the back end for voucher programs,” she explained.

Morgan said the ruling could have a reverse impact.

“It's not really going to expand vouchers in our state, but I think it's going to give the community and lawmakers a lot of pause,” she said. “When deciding if they want to have a universal voucher program, they know now that if they create a voucher program, it must go to religious schools, even if they're using those funds in ways that we don't think are really appropriate for public dollars.”

Would there be backlash?

“Yeah, absolutely,” she said.

NATIVE AMERICANS: Oklahoma v. Castro-Huerta

The ruling came in the case of Manuel Castro-Huerta, a non-Indian first prosecuted by the state and sentenced to 35 years in prison for the criminal abuse of his 5-year-old Cherokee stepdaughter, who weighed only 19 pounds and was covered in feces and lice when she was taken to the hospital. His conviction was set aside after the Supreme Court's 2019 decision, and he was then sentenced to seven years in a plea deal with federal prosecutors.

But, the Supreme Court ruled that the state had concurrent power to prosecute him.

Could this affect Nevadans?  

Sovereignty is the ability to self-govern – to make your own laws and be governed by them. If tribal sovereignty is difficult to understand, Kostan Lathouris breaks it down like this:

“They're their own governments, the countries within those continents are their own governments, they have the authority to make their own laws and be governed by them. Now, tribes aren't foreign nations, the Supreme Court found that they're called domestic-dependent nations. And so that does change the analysis, but not by much. Let's look to states are political subdivisions of the United States. And tribes are more sovereign than states. But if you were to travel to another state, whose laws would you have to follow?” he said.

The chair of the Nevada Indian Commission said in the state of Nevada, if the state is going to exercise criminal jurisdiction over non-Indians or Indians within the reservation who commit crimes, it’s based on the consent of those tribes.

He said Oklahoma had a chance under federal law to be able to exercise that jurisdiction but chose not to do that.

“Here in Nevada, there's more respect, there's a better relationship. And in fact, Nevada has made great strides in improving relationships. … We've adopted Assembly Bill 264, which is to develop a policy to try to foster a more collaborative relationship between the states and tribes. And then the Indian Commission is supposed to draft and create a policy for that,” Lathouris said.

Amanda Morgan, legal director, Educate Nevada Now;  Kostan Lathouris, tribal law attorney and chair, Nevada Indian Commission;  Allison Anderman, senior counsel and director of local policy, Giffords Law Center;  Angelyn Tabalba, communications director, Nevada Conservation League

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Paul serves as KNPR's producer and reporter in Northern Nevada. Based in Reno, Paul specializes in covering state government and the legislature.
Kristen DeSilva (she/her) is the audience engagement specialist for Nevada Public Radio. She curates content on, our weekly newsletter and social media for Nevada Public Radio and Desert Companion.