House Bill 232 would curtail Utah attorney general’s ability to join ‘friend of the court’ lawsuits

Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes (left); Rep. Brian S. King. Photos: Twitter;

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, Jan. 24, 2021 (Gephardt Daily) — A new bill put forth in the Utah Legislature would limit the authority of Attorney General Sean Reyes after his controversial decision in early December to join a Texas lawsuit challenging the results of the 2020 presidential election in four states carried by Joe Biden.

The lawsuit ultimately was unsuccessful in changing the election results.

The bill, H.B. 232, sponsored by Rep. Brian S. King (D-Salt Lake City), would place limitations on the attorney general’s ability to participate in an amicus curiae (friend of the court) proceeding, such as the Texas lawsuit, which was joined by 17 other states as well.

The attorney general also would be required to consult with and obtain the consent of the governor before taking any action or participating in such a lawsuit, something Reyes failed to do.

At the time, then-Gov. Gary Herbert expressed his dismay over Reye’s action, as did then-Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox, saying they didn’t understand the attorney general’s “motivation.”

“Just as we would not want other states challenging Utah’s election results, we do not think we should intervene in other states’ elections. Candidates who wish to challenge election results have access to the courts without our involvement.

“This is an unwise use of taxpayers’ money,” they said.

Reyes’ decision to join the Texas lawsuit also drew the ire of a group of “Concerned Citizens,” who wrote him an open letter demanding that he apologize for involving Utah in the lawsuit — or step down.

The open letter, signed by several organizations, including Stand Up Republic – Utah, Alliance for a Better Utah, and SL Indivisible, stated that Reyes had misused the power of his office by “supporting a frivolous and undemocratic lawsuit intended to discredit our nation’s free and fair elections and disenfranchise millions of American voters…”

The entire letter can be read by clicking here.


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