HJR2 is an attack on the Judicial Branch

In the Committee Hearing on HJR2—a measure that removes one standard by which courts can issue injunctions against contentious cases, including ill-advised, harmful, or unconstitutional laws, Rep. Brammer commented that the injunction against the abortion “trigger law” (SB174) was the precipitating factor in his decision to introduce this resolution which allows retroactive Motions to Dismiss an injunction. Further, his intent was to restrict injunctions against future “controversial” bills, commenting that legislation belongs with “elected representatives.”  

Representative Brammer’s comments are problematic on several fronts. First, it is foolish to assume that our Legislature truly represents the will of the people when the supermajority deliberately drew districts that leave the roughly one third of Utahns who are Democrats or left-center Independents proportionately under-represented in our Legislature and Congress.

Second, the grounds for injunction struck by this measure are those based on “serious issues on the merits [of the case] which could be the subject of further litigation.” Really—“serious issues” are not adequate reason to hit the pause button on contentious cases until they can be definitively settled in court?

Third, this measure allows litigants to reopen, with a Motion to Review, almost any case with an active injunction explicitly granted on the basis of the deleted standard. This seems a recipe for legal chaos and harm, especially for SB174 where the lives and health of women (and their families) are at risk.

Finally, Representative Brammer seems oblivious to the fact that both our federal and state systems were designed to maintain a healthy balance between the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government.

The past years have seen multiple successful attacks by the Legislature on the authority of the Governor and Executive Branch agencies, as well as that of county and municipal governments. HJR2 is an attack on the Judicial Branch that is a road too far. 

Dr. Ellen Brady currently serves as the Issues Director for the Women’s Democratic Club of Utah.