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Victory! Nebraska Ends Judicial Deference to Bureaucrats & Protects Donor Privacy

March 28, 2024

In a victory for individual liberty, Nebraska Gov. Jim Pillen this week signed landmark legislation that strengthens separation of powers, promotes fairness in the judicial system, and protects donor privacy.

The legislation was inspired in part by the Judicial Deference Reform Act, the Goldwater Institute’s joint model legislation with Pacific Legal Foundation. Arizona was the first state to pass legislation ending judicial deference to administrative agencies in 2018, and twelve other states have since followed Arizona’s lead via legislation or litigation.

Sponsored by Sen. Rita Sanders, LB 43 prohibits courts from deferring to agency interpretations of statutes or rules and requires courts to instead interpret the relevant texts themselves, or de novo. This change ensures that government agencies cannot expand their own power by applying generous interpretations of statutes and regulations that are then upheld by overly deferential courts.

LB 43 also includes language that protects donor privacy by prohibiting the government from requiring nonprofit organizations to divulge personal information about their donors. The Goldwater Institute has long supported efforts to protect donor privacy and has worked around the country to protect the identity of non-profit donors from public disclosure.

The Platte Institute’s Laura Ebke noted the importance of this legislation for Nebraskans, “LB43 marks a small but significant change in tipping the balance in favor of individual citizens when they conflict with state agencies.”

The Goldwater Institute applauds the Platte Institute, Pacific Legal Foundation, and numerous other partners on the ground for securing this significant win for individual liberty. The Institute also congratulates legislative champion Sen. Rita Sanders, Gov. Jim Pillen, and the Nebraska Legislature on passing this landmark reform.

Brian Norman is the Director of State Affairs at the Goldwater Institute, where he assists in the development and implementation of Goldwater’s national legislative affairs strategy.



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