A federal judge appears poised to strike down part of a disputed new state election law that defines how political parties choose candidates for elected office. U.S. District Judge David Nuffer signaled Tuesday that he intends to find forcing parties to hold open primary elections is unconstitutional. He noted that every other court has found that requirement violates the First Amendment. “Honestly, that’s how I think I’m ruling,” he said after hearing arguments from the Utah Republican Party, the Utah Constitution Party and the state. Nuffer will issue a written decision in the coming days, which could potentially end the lawsuit that the Utah GOP filed against the state. The law includes a clause that says if part of it is struck down, the remainder stands.
Assistant attorney general David Wolfe declined to comment until the ruling comes out. The state could appeal.
Utah Republican Party Chairman James Evans said the judge’s inclination “bolsters our legal confidence” and further clarifies the party’s position.
“I’m satisfied that our claims are what we say they are, which is that the statute is unconstitutional. But also that as the party, we get to decide our membership and we get to decide how we will proceed in nominating our candidates,” he said.