SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A ruling from a federal judge this week makes it unlikely that Republican Gov. Gary Herbert or lawmakers will be called to testify in the Utah Republican Party’s lawsuit over changes to the state’s election system.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Dustin Pead ruled late Wednesday that the GOP’s attorneys cannot seek testimony or evidence related to the purpose or intent behind the new election law.
Pead agreed with the Utah attorney general’s office that motives behind the law are irrelevant to deciding if it’s constitutional.
A message left with the Utah GOP’s attorney Marcus Mumford was not returned Thursday.
The 2014 law was a compromise between the Republican-controlled Legislature and Count My Vote, a group pushing to dump the caucus nominating system.
The law allows candidates to bypass Utah’s caucus and convention system by instead gathering signatures and participating in primary elections.
The Utah Republican Party filed a lawsuit over the changes, arguing it has a constitutional right to determine how it picks its candidates.
If it remains in place for next year’s elections, supporters argue more moderate candidates would match up in a primary election against more hardline candidates picked by the caucus nominating system.
David Wolf with the Utah Attorney General’s Office says if the party tries to find another way to compel the governor and lawmakers to testify, he thinks the court will once again block it as irrelevant.