POLITICS + GOVERNMENT

Utah abortion ban could take effect if lawmakers change a procedural rule

Jan 12, 2023, 10:14 AM | Updated: Jan 23, 2023, 12:22 pm
A Utah lawmaker will propose a rule change that would amend Utah's Rules of Civil Procedure, the gu...
FILE: The reflecting pool at the Utah State Capitol. A proposal from Rep. Brady Brammer, R-Pleasant Grove, would tweak rule 65A, which outlines that attorneys must prove a set of specific rules to get an injunction issued. (Paul Nelson)
(Paul Nelson)

Listen live: The Utah House has passed HJR 2. KSL Legal Analyst joins live at 12:35 a.m. to discuss what the change could do.

 

SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah lawmaker will propose a rule change that would amend Utah’s Rules of Civil Procedure, the guidelines that determine when a judge can issue an injunction.

If the rule change to Utah’s Rules of Civil Procedure passes, a near-total ban on abortion in Utah could go into effect.

The proposal from Rep. Brady Brammer, R-Pleasant Grove, would tweak rule 65A. It outlines that attorneys must prove a set of specific rules to get an injunction issued.

The rule currently states that attorneys must prove a judge can issue an injunction when the case is likely to prevail at trial or that it “presents serious issues on the merits which should be the subject of further litigation.” 

The proposed text strikes the existing line that allows for the injunction to be granted on the “serious issues on the merits” and adds that injunctions could only be issued in Utah if there is a “substantial likelihood” that the case will win at trial.

In the screenshot below, the red highlighted lines would be stricken and the yellow are the proposed text to be added.

“It used to be an either/or,” said KSL Legal Analyst Greg Skordas. “The ‘public importance’ part has been stricken … effectively making it much more difficult to get a preliminary injunction.”

The change would apply to injunctions retroactively.

“It’s very rare that the legislature would pass a law ex post facto, or retroactive,” said Skordas. 

In a text to KSL NewsRadio, Brammer argued that “HJR2 brings our state rule on injunctions in line with the federal rule to increase the consistent application of the law,” he said.

When asked why the proposed change needed to happen retroactively, Brammer responded that was his only comment.

If this resolution passes, Skordas says Planned Parenthood of Utah — which filed the suit against the abortion ban and was granted an injunction — would have to go back and prove their case could win at trial for the abortion law to stay on hold, something that will likely take more time and resources.

In his ruling, Judge Andrew Stone issued the injunction stating that Planned Parenthood  demonstrated “serious issues on the merits that should be the subject of further litigation.”

Resolutions follow the same process as bills as to whether they will be heard by the full body. The rules committee must assign Brammer’s resolution to a committee and that committee would have to approve it before it’s heard by the full House.

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Utah abortion ban could take effect if lawmakers change a procedural rule