Judge says Utah GOP missed deadlines, so he drops their request to rule in SB54 case

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SALT LAKE CITY — Citing a series of missed deadlines, a federal judge has rejected a request by the Utah Republican Party to rule in its favor on a lawsuit against the state over Senate Bill 54.

In an order issued Thursday, U.S. District Court Judge David Nuffer said the Utah GOP’s lawyers had repeatedly missed deadlines in the case and so he would not consider the party’s motion for a summary judgment.

“Because Plaintiff’s counsel was clearly warned about failure to meet the September 22 deadline, and because this is not the first, second, third, or even tenth time Plaintiff’s counsel had missed a deadline in this case, the following items are stricken and will not be considered: Plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment; Plaintiff’s ‘corrected’ motion for summary judgment; and Plaintiff’s Appendix to the ‘corrected’ motion for summary judgment,” Nuffer wrote.

The decision does not halt the Utah Republican Party’s lawsuit against the state over SB54. The Utah GOP said Thursday its lawsuit continues and the party has the ability to go back before the judge to have him consider their claims of forced association under SB54, as well as the constitutionality of the law itself.

SB54 was created as a compromise over the “Count My Vote” ballot initiative. It creates an alternative path for candidates to get on the ballot if they gather enough signatures, instead of the caucus/convention system the GOP prefers. The Utah GOP is suing the state over SB54, arguing it infringes on their First Amendment right to free association.

The Utah Attorney General’s Office recently asked the judge to rule in its favor, and drop the Republican Party’s entire case. The court has ordered mediation in the case, selecting former Utah. Lt. Gov. Greg Bell as the mediator.

Read the Utah GOP’s motion for summary judgment here: