Ricketts, others seek dismissal of ACLU lawsuit challenging death penalty referendum

Ricketts, others seek dismissal of ACLU lawsuit challenging death penalty referendum

LINCOLN — Attorneys for Gov. Pete Ricketts argued Friday in court that he simply exercised his rights as a citizen when he participated in a referendum petition that restored Nebraska’s death penalty in 2016.

Lawyers for the ACLU of Nebraska countered that as the state’s top executive, the governor doesn’t get to make law, but when he led and helped fund the referendum petition drive to overturn the Legislature’s death penalty repeal, the governor made law in violation of the Constitution’s separation of powers clause.

Lancaster County District Judge John Colborn heard 50 minutes of legal debate Friday from six different lawyers in a lawsuit that could strike down the 2016 death penalty referendum vote.

The judge said he will consider the arguments along with written briefs before he issues a ruling. He could dismiss the case, remove some of the defendants or allow the lawsuit to proceed unchanged.

Lawyers for Ricketts, Attorney General Doug Peterson, Treasurer Don Stenberg and several other defendants argued that the lawsuit should be dismissed now before engaging in further litigation. Read More.