Utah proposal: lawyers must study state’s rights


SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — In order to more effectively stand up to the federal government Utah officials should be required to learn about “sovereignty, supremacy and jurisdiction” first, a Republican lawmaker says.

Rep. Ken Ivory,R-West Jordan, is proposing that Utah judges, as well as state and local government lawyers, be required to take an online seminar every two years stressing those tenets.

“We need to make sure our lawyers know what the rights, powers and authorities of a state are,” Ivory said.

Outside the Utah House or Representatives
Outside the Utah House or Representatives

The Salt Lake Tribune reports (http://bit.ly/1nzVwJf ) a House committee voted 7-1 Friday to approve the bill, HB120.

Rep. Rebecca Chavez-Houck, D-Salt Lake City, opposed the proposal. She questioned requiring a course not sanctioned by the Utah State Bar for attorneys who are already “expected to have a certain level of expertise.”

A state lawsuit against the federal government prompted Ivory to bring the measure forward, he said. The case dealt with the jurisdiction of federal police officers versus state police. The judge in that suit, he said, misstated states’ rights, and Utah’s attorneys didn’t appropriately call out the error.

Under the bill, the state’s Commission on Federalism would design curriculum for the course. The price tag is an estimated $23,000.

Among the bill’s required lessons are the history and workings of the 10th Amendment. That right grants states control over powers not specifically designated to the federal government.

It also requires coaching on how and when challenges should be made to federal rules, and outlines which state powers are meant to be checks on Washington.

The bill would require any state and local government employee belonging to the state bar to take the course, Ivory said. Including judges in the bill is important, he added, because they advise law and put it into practice.

During a committee hearing, Ivory quoted former Utah Supreme Court Justice Dallin H. Oaks, now an apostle in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as saying federalism is “one of the most divinely inspired aspects of our Constitution.” Ivory said it must be used more as a check on the power of the federal government.

Ivory has long championed state rights. Lawmakers two years ago passed a bill he sponsored demanding the federal government give Utah the title to federal public lands in the state, except for parks and monuments overseen by the National Park Service.

The measure goes to the full House for consideration.

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