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Legislator Proposing Amendment to Curb Utah Judiciary

Legislator Proposing Amendment to Curb Utah Judiciary



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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- A Utah legislator is proposing a constitutional amendment that would prevent the Utah Supreme Court from being able to order state government to spend money on a program or need.

Court officials say they couldn't recall a time when a court ordered the Utah Legislature to spend any money, except for cases settled by voluntary consent decrees.

One state agency agreed to spend more than $50 million upgrading its foster care program as a result of a federal court suit brought by a San Francisco-based child advocacy group. Other times the Utah Supreme Court has ordered local governments to satisfy a civil claim, but Hughes said his amendment wouldn't affect such routine cases.

"While it has not happened in Utah, and there is no immediate danger of it happening here, we still don't want it to ever happen," he said.

Hughes is among conservatives throughout the nation who have been busy criticizing court rulings they claim have no basis in either the U.S. or state constitutions.

The five-member Utah Supreme Court isn't known for a haven for activist judges, however, and Chief Justice Christine Durham declined comment, referring questions to Assistant Court Administrator Richard Schwermer, who said Hughes was proposing a solution for a problem that doesn't exist in Utah.

"But in Kansas recently, that state's court ordered their Legislature to spend more money on education," Hughes said . "We want to make sure nothing like that could happen here."

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Information from: Deseret Morning News, http://www.deseretnews.com

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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