A federal judge has thrown out the lawsuit challenging Utah's wildlife proposition. The ruling ends a two year old legal battle over an amendment that makes it tougher to pass ballot initiatives involving wildlife management.
Proposition five passed in 1998 and made it necessary for a two-thirds vote to change wildlife laws through a ballot initiative. Supporters say the change in the Utah constitution was needed so wildlife management decisions could be based on scientific eveidence instead of public pressure.
The lawsuit, filed by the Initiative and Referendum Institute and others, aimed to stop proposition five and claimed the two-thirds majority requirement would chill rights of free speech, association and the right to petition the government. District court judge Tena Campbell ruled against the constitutional challenge and dismissed the lawsuit.
"The court agreed with the argument that proposition five did not infringe on first amendment rights, explained assistant attorney general Thom Roberts who represented Utah in the lawsuit.
"The people of Utah can still approach public officials about wildlife issues. They can still band together, argue and seek a ballot initiative on wildlife matters. The only thing this amendment does is make it more difficult for an initiative to pass," concluded Roberts.
Both sides agreed to dismiss the other lawsuit claims so the judgment would be final and the plaintiffs could seek a review of the ruling in the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals. The plaintiffs have 30 days after the order was signed to file an appeal.