A few days ago, District Court Judge Dever granted the defendant’s (AG’s office) motion to dismiss the first two counts of the lawsuit questioning the constitutionality of last year’s (2008) SB2 (2nd substitute). After listening to the Judge ask both parties questions in court (back on March 26th), frankly I’m a bit surprised. According to lawyers for the plaintiffs, the ruling appears to avoid the substantive question, and hinges more on technicalities. (It’s linked below; see for yourself.) An appeal is planned, which is no surprise to either side—this issue will likely see final resolution from the Utah Supreme Court.
The Salt Lake Tribune has another editorial out supporting the lawsuit.
[The appeal] is the right thing to do. The lawmakers, state education officials and others who filed the lawsuit want a definitive ruling on whether legislators violated the Utah Constitution when, in the final hours of the legislative session, they packaged together a dozen bills, some that contained must-pass education funding.
Each piece of important legislation — and all laws regarding public education are important — is best considered on its own merits, not lumped together with other bills under the vast “education” umbrella. The more so when some of those bills cater mainly to private interests.
“SB2 Ruling: Plaintiffs should pursue appeal,” Salt Lake Tribune, 2008-05-28
If anyone’s looking for it, here is a copy of Judge Dever’s ruling [pdf, 5 MB] dismissing the first two counts of the complaint.
Many Utah newspapers came out against the omnibus bill, and in support of the lawsuit (all except the Provo Daily Herald, so far as I can tell—and the Herald‘s primary argument was along the lines of “It could have been worse”).
- “Power and politics: Court should throw light on omnibus legislation,” Salt Lake Tribune, 2008-04-18
- “Omnibus bills tip power ,” Deseret News, 2008-04-19
- “Forcing the issue: SB2 must not be allowed to set precedent ,” Salt Lake Tribune, 2008-05-30
- “Legislative grab-bagging ,” Standard-Examiner, 2008-06-01
(I seem to recall something from the Spectrum too, but I don’t see it in my notes.)