A federal judge has ordered the Utah Republican Party and state officials to work to resolve a lawsuit over a new law changing how political parties nominate candidates. U.S. District Judge David Nuffer said this week that mediation will be faster and cheaper than waiting for the dispute play out in court as state officials prepare to run 2016 elections. At a court hearing Tuesday afternoon, Nuffer ordered the GOP and the state to pick a mediator by Sept. 18 and hold talks in late September and early October. The disputed law, approved in 2014 by Utah’s GOP governor and Republican-dominated Legislature, allows candidates to bypass a caucus and convention system and instead try to become a party’s nominee by gathering signatures and participating in primary elections.
Republican Party leaders sued in December to strike down the law, arguing they have a constitutional right to determine how they pick candidates.
James Evans, the chairman of the Utah Republican Party, said Wednesday that the GOP is still pursuing its lawsuit but will work to see if it can be settled through mediation. “We’re open to all of those options as long as our constitutional questions are answered,” Evans said.
The GOP argued earlier this year that it didn’t have time to comply with the law by next year’s elections, but Nuffer ruled in April that wasn’t enough reason to temporarily block the law.