It is not possible to know precisely why the Utah Supreme Court dismissed the suit by Utahns for Ethical Government to get its proposed law reforming legislative ethics on the ballot. That's because the court issued a short ruling, but not an opinion, which will come later. However, the effect of the ruling is clear. It allows the Legislature's gutting of the people's right to create law through initiatives to continue. That injustice should not stand.
UEG filed its initiative petition in 2009. It seeks to ban gifts to lawmakers, impose a waiting period for legislators to become lobbyists, create an independent ethics commission and cap campaign donations. Today, Utah has no limits on campaign contributions to people running for state offices.
UEG contends that Utah law gave it a year to gather the roughly 95,000 signatures from across the state to place the initiative on the 2010 ballot. That deadline would have fallen in August 2010. However, the state, through Lt. Gov. Greg Bell, insisted the deadline fell earlier, in April 2010. Both sides agree that UEG did not collect sufficient signatures by the April deadline. The state Supreme Court ruled for the state earlier this month, meaning that the measure will not appear on the 2012 ballot.