The Utah GOP is suing Governor Herbert again

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Governor Gary Herbert speaks at his monthly KUED news conference on Oct. 22, 2015. (Image courtesy KUED)

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Republican Party has filed a new lawsuit against Governor Gary Herbert and the state, asking a federal judge to resolve the issue surrounding signature gathering as a path for political candidates to get on a primary ballot.

The lawsuit, quietly filed late Friday in U.S. District Court, came the same day that Governor Herbert filed with the state’s elections office his intent to gather signatures to help him get on the November ballot.

The lawsuit has been expected ever since a federal judge ruled that the Utah GOP could exclude unaffiliated voters from participating in its primary elections, but the ruling has sparked a disagreement between Republicans about what to do with those who gather signatures, skipping the caucus/convention system the GOP prefers.

The whole thing centers around Senate Bill 54, a compromise piece of legislation that carved two paths for political candidates to get on a ballot: the caucus/convention system or gathering signatures. It came out of a public ballot initiative called “Count My Vote” that sought to do away with the caucus/convention system. The Utah GOP sued, arguing that SB54 violates its First Amendment free association rights.

In the latest lawsuit, the Utah GOP asks the judge to declare SB54 unconstitutional.

“…the State has taken away and misappropriated the Party’s right to determine for itself the candidate selection process that will produce a nominee who best represents the Party’s political platform;
burdened the Party’s associational rights by mandating changes to the Party’s internal rules and procedures, at the threat of depriving the Party of its rights if it refuses to comply, that disadvantage the Party, and that the Party has rejected and that conflict with the rules the Party has determined for itself, as set forth in its Constitution and Bylaws, will produce a nominee who best represents the Party’s political platform;” the lawsuit states.

Read the Utah GOP’s lawsuit here: