Courts Crime and Justice Legal and Judicial Nevada New Mexico Political Thought The Constitution

A Victory for Constitutional Constraint

A special prosecutor concedes to the separation of powers

Andrea Reeb, the special prosecutor in the involuntary-manslaughter case against actor Alec Baldwin, has stepped down. It was the right call.

As the Southwest Public Policy explained, the day before Reeb announced her decision, New Mexico’s constitution leaves no doubt: state officials cannot exercise the power of two branches of government simultaneously. The principle at issue is a core — some might say sacred — concept of Western thinking about the “public” sector. The moment Reeb was sworn in as a member of New Mexico’s legislature, she should have resigned her position with the First Judicial District Court. Again, she did the right thing in vacating her appointment, but it came two and a half months late.

With the Reeb distraction eliminated, let’s hope that a jury comes to a well-supported conclusion as to whether Baldwin exhibited “a complete disregard for basic safety protocols” in the death of Halyna Hutchins.

In the American Southwest, though, the fight goes on. The Nevada Policy Research Institute has waged a lengthy battle to enforce the Silver State’s constitutional prohibition of any person “charged with the exercise of powers properly belonging to one” branch from possessing any authority “appertaining to either of the others.”

Good government via constitutional constraint enjoyed a small win this week in New Mexico. Let’s hope an even larger victory is secured, at last, in Nevada.

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