The preliminary hearing for the lawsuit the United Utah Party is pursuing against the Lt. Governor's office was held yesterday. Judge David Nuffer scheduled the actual hearing for July13-14. with a decision quickly after that. The judge also used the session to pose questions about the case. The questions to our attorneys and the state's attorneys expressed the fact that the case was not based on statute, but an executive order. He wanted to know where the provisions of the executive order were based in statute, and he wanted to know what provisions existed in the executive order for any new party to compete.
The reality is that the governor's timetable is not based on statute. It is something the governor simply created. That makes it less sturdy under scrutiny because there is no statute the judge can turn to in order to guide him in deciding the case. The Lt. Governor's office claimed they were following the general election statutes. But they were doing so selectively. They were not providing any path for a new party, which is provided for in the general election statutes. They were compressing the petition gathering process for the primary ballot from three months to 20 days, which is not in any statute. They set a deadline for candidate filing that had no basis in statute. They were setting up their own rules and then using those rules to keep Jim Bennett off the ballot.
The judge wanted to discover whether the timetable the governor created had provided any way for a new party to form and compete in the process. That may be the crux of the case. And it should turn the case in our favor because there was no such path.
Their process had shut us out of competition. While general election statute is written in such a way that a new party can form and compete, the special election process created by the governor offered no such path. We were denied our constitutional right to participate in an election. The fact that it was a special election rather than a general election does not make a difference.
We do not know how this case will end up, but we do believe we have the U.S. Constitution on our side. We hope Judge Nuffer sees it that way as well. Soon, we will find out.