Utah’s Lt. Governor isn’t going to respond to the Utah GOP’s appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court

SALT LAKE CITY — Lt. Governor Spencer Cox will not respond to a petition by the Utah Republican Party to the U.S. Supreme Court.

In a filing on Tuesday night with the nation’s top court, the Utah Attorney General’s Office — representing Cox, a Republican — said it would waive a response to the Utah GOP’s petition for certiorari. Cox’s attorney said he would respond if requested by the Court.

That would signal the justices were even entertaining the case. The U.S. Supreme Court has not decided yet if it will take the case. The Court receives thousands of petitions every year, but only agrees to hear a handful.

The Utah GOP is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to hear its appeal of a lawsuit against a state law that allows political candidates to gather signatures to appear on election ballots. The state’s dominant political party has essentially argued that the law violates their First Amendment right allowing their caucus/convention system and party delegates to choose which candidates get advanced.

Critics have said that method advances more extreme-viewed candidates. The signature-gathering method was the subject of two ballot initiatives (neither of which made it before voters) known as “Count My Vote.” It resulted in a compromise law, Senate Bill 54, that allows candidates to either gather signatures, go through the caucus/convention system, or both.

Senator-elect Mitt Romney, 3rd District Congressman John Curtis and Governor Gary Herbert, all Republicans, have all used the signature-gathering method to ensure a spot on a primary ballot after party delegates advanced other candidates against them. The method within the Utah GOP has triggered a long-running “civil war” with litigation costs that have nearly bankrupted the party and pitting Republicans against Republicans.

Federal courts have repeatedly ruled against the Utah GOP. But the party has found support in current and former state lawmakers and other groups. In amicus filings with the U.S. Supreme Court, a group of legislators argued the Utah Republican Party has a right to pick its candidates.

“An association is a group of individuals who have come together to act as a separate entity for a joint purpose or goal. The value of an association is derived from the shared ideals, collective strengths, and social network of each individual forming the
association. The collective qualities of an association’s individuals increase the likelihood of a specific purpose or goal being accomplished than if each individual were acting alone,” they wrote.

The groups Private Citizen, the Eagle Forum, Judicial Watch also filed in support of the Utah GOP.

Read the Utah legislators’ amicus filing here: