LITTLE ROCK — A Little Rock judge has been appointed to fill in for the Arkansas Supreme Court chief justice in a pair of challenges to a ballot measure that would legalize four casinos in the state.
Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Wednesday appointed Little Rock District Court Judge Hugh Finkelstein as a special justice for the two lawsuits challenging the proposed constitutional amendment on the November ballot. Chief Justice Dan Kemp has recused from each of the ballot measure challenges.
The proposed amendment would legalize casinos at a Hot Springs horse track and a West Memphis dog track that already offer electronic gambling. It would also legalize casinos in Pope and Jefferson counties. The lawsuits are trying to get the proposal disqualified from the ballot.
The second of those suits was filed by a group called Citizens for Local Choice. The lawsuit claims the proposal doesn’t inform voters it would effectively overturn the Arkansas constitution’s ban on monopolies.
Another group led by Pine Bluff pastor Derick Easter filed the first lawsuit against the measure with the high court and also makes claims that the proposal is misleading to voters, including its ability, if passed, to allow alcoholic beverages to be served on Christmas Day, which is currently against state law.
Little Rock Attorney Scott Trotter, who is representing Ensuring Arkansas’ Future, Easter’s group, said in a previous interview with The Commercial that voters should know everything that the amendment proposes before casting their ballots.
“It’s a time-honored tradition,” Trotter said of the prohibition of alcohol sales on Christmas Day.
Easter said he doesn’t support a casino coming to Jefferson County.
“One, I think that the industry as a whole targets those who can least afford to lose their income,” he told The Commercial in a previous interview. “I also do not think that casinos are a profit to communities. That is the main focus. Casinos don’t revive local communities, they act as parasites upon those communities.”