Press Release: Utah Supreme Court oral argument shows path to end partisan gerrymandering
After almost four hours of rigorous questioning, the Utah Supreme Court today seemed poised to protect Utahns from unlawful partisan gerrymandering and potentially restore the force of the Better Boundaries initiative that Utah voters approved in 2018.
“Election Reformers Network was proud to support Proposition 4, the 2018 ballot initiative prohibiting partisan gerrymandering in Utah,” said ERN Executive Director Kevin Johnson, “and the Justices’ incisive questioning today seemed rightly skeptical of the Legislature’s power to steamroll the important protections against gerrymandering that the initiative provided – and that a majority of Utah voters directly approved.”
Before the Court are questions both about the constitutionality of the Legislature’s repeal of Proposition 4 as well as the constitutionality of partisan gerrymandering itself under the state constitution. “Utah’s state constitution provides protections that exceed those provided under the federal constitution,” said ERN Senior Counsel G. Michael Parsons. “Whether the Court sets out standards protecting the right of Utah voters to reform their government through the initiative process or sets out standards protecting the right of Utah voters to an undiluted vote, we are hopeful that this case will mark the beginning of the end of partisan gerrymandering in the State of Utah.”
The case was filed by the League of Women Voters of Utah, Mormon Women for Ethical Government, and several Utah voters, represented by the Campaign Legal Center and local counsel. “ERN applauds the exceptional advocacy provided by the Campaign Legal Center and amici in this case, and we support the important stand taken by the League and the other plaintiffs in the case to protect the constitutional rights of Utah voters.” said Johnson. “State constitutions provide vital safeguards against partisan gerrymandering and leave open, at the state level, the path for judicial protection against partisan excess that the U.S. Supreme Court closed off for federal courts in Rucho v. Common Cause. A recent order affirming the justiciability of partisan gerrymandering claims in New Mexico shows the promise of this path forward – and we hope the Utah Supreme Court will issue a similar order in due time.”
Election Reformers Network (ERN) is a nonpartisan, nonprofit, public policy organization advancing common-sense rules that protect elections from the country’s increasing polarization. Founded in 2017 by election experts with extensive experience in the United States and overseas, ERN creates and supports reforms that secure elections against partisan manipulation and bolster voter trust.
Al Vanderklipp, ERN Communications