Utah GOP asks for full appellate court review of SB54 ruling

SALT LAKE CITY — Republicans want the entire 10th Circuit Court of Appeals to review a three-judge panel’s decision last month upholding Utah’s controversial election law that gives candidates an alternative path to the primary election ballot.

The state GOP filed a petition Wednesday asking for an “en banc” hearing of the court’s 2-1 ruling in favor of the 2014 law known as SB54. It allows candidates to bypass a political party’s traditional caucus and convention system for selecting nominees by collecting voter signatures to guarantee a place on the primary ballot.

The court ruled that the law strikes an appropriate balance between protecting the interests of the state in managing elections and allowing the Utah Republican Party and individuals to express their preferences in a democratic fashion and to form associations as protected by the First Amendment.

In a dissenting opinion, Chief Judge Timothy M. Tymkovich found SB54 attempts to change the substance of the Utah GOP under the guise of the state’s authority to regulate elections. He said there is peril allowing states to impose such procedural changes on unwilling political parties.

The 10th Circuit court, based in Denver, rarely grants en banc reviews.

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