Utah State Legislature v. League of Women Voters
What's at Stake
This case involves a state constitutional challenge to the Utah Legislature’s 2021 redistricting plan, which was drawn to entrench the majority political party’s power and to discriminate against Utahns whose political expression aligns with an opposition political party. The ACLU and the ACLU of Utah filed an amicus brief in support of the challenge in the Utah Supreme Court, explaining why the redistricting map violates Utahns’ free-expression rights and why courts have the authority to block the map as unconstitutional.
In 2018, Utah voters adopted Proposition 4, a bipartisan initiative that expressly prohibited partisanship in the redistricting process and empowered the Utah Independent Redistricting Commission (“UIRC”) to draw maps unvarnished by partisan gerrymandering.
But the UIRC’s maps were never implemented. In 2020, in direct contravention of the voters who adopted Proposition 4, the Legislature passed SB 200. SB200 gutted Proposition recast the UIRC as a mere advisory entity, and purported to restore the Legislature’s unfettered authority to draw anti-democratic maps that weigh the voices of some voters more heavily than others.
The Legislature quickly exercised that asserted authority. In 2021, the Legislature’s majority party entrenched its political power by drawing a congressional map that discriminated against Utahns whose political expression aligns with an opposition political party. For example, the map cracked Salt Lake City voters into four districts in a bid to prevent them—because of their political votes, speech, and associations—from electing legislators of their choosing.
Several plaintiffs, including the League of Women Voters, challenged the partisan gerrymandering in court, arguing that it violates the Utah Constitution.
The ACLU’s Voting Rights Project and State Supreme Court Initiative, along with the ACLU of Utah, filed an amicus brief in support of the challengers to the redistricting plan. The brief argues that the Legislature’s drawing of congressional maps in a partisan way constitutes viewpoint discrimination that burdens fundamental free speech, expression, and associational rights protected in the Utah Constitution. The brief also argues that the Court has the authority to review these types of partisan gerrymandering claims.