Reply requested: The Supreme Court asks Utah to respond in case challenging SB54

The U.S. Supreme Court asked the state of Utah to submit a response to the Utah Republican Party’s lawsuit challenging the state’s dual-track system for candidates to get on the ballot. But, don’t use that to try and divine what the court might do.

In November, the state declined to file a response to the Utah GOP’s appeal of a lower court ruling on their case. But, on Tuesday, the high court asked for the state to respond. That filing is due in 30 days.

However, just because the court requested a response from the state does not mean they are more or less likely to grant the Utah GOP’s appeal in the case. In fact, this sort of request from the high court is quite common.

In 2016, the Supreme Court asked the state to file a response in the notorious “Sister Wives” case challenging the state’s ban on polygamy before declining to take up the case.

Earlier this year, an inmate at the Utah State Prison sued after he suffered a stroke, but guards did not give him adequate medical care until the next morning. The Supreme Court requested a response from the respondent before declining to hear the case.

One legal expert who spoke to on background said the request could be as simple as somebody at the court wants to know what the state had to say about the case before they decide what to do.

The Utah GOP’s appeal was slated for discussion by the Justices in their January 4th conference. But, now that the court has asked for a response from the state, that conference probably won’t happen until early February of 2019 at the earliest.

If at least 4 justices decide the case is worth hearing, then it will be set for oral arguments in front of the full court next year. Every year approximately 7,000 to 8,000 cases are sent to the Supreme Court for consideration, but only about 80 are set for oral arguments every year.