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Judge Pushes for Mediation Talks in SB54 Lawsuit

The political parties involved in a lawsuit against SB54 are once again attempting to find a settlement with the state, this time using a mediator.

The federal judge overseeing the case have given leaders of the Utah Republican Party and the Utah Constitutional party until next week to come to an agreement with the Attorney General’s office on who will act as the mediator. But the negotiations would not directly involve the legislature because they aren’t named in the lawsuit.

Republican State Sen. Curt Bramble was a key sponsor of SB54. He says he’s not sure what is possible without the legislature being involved.

“Finding mediation in this particular instance may be a very difficult challenge," he says. "I’m not opposed to it. If the parties can come to an agreement, but the AG has to defend what the law is on the books.”

Any agreement between the political parties and the AG’s office to change the law would still have to go through the legislature, and they wouldn’t be bound to do anything.

Utah GOP Chairman James Evans says party leaders are willing to talk, but that they’re not going to retreat from their claims that the law is unconstitutional.

“And if there’s somehow that can get resolved in mediation then all the better," he says. "If it has to be resolved through a ruling of the judge, then that would be that path. Or if the Legislature addresses it. So, we’re open to any path that will get this matter resolved.”

SB54 changes the way political parties nominate their candidates for elections. It was a compromise between group called Count My Vote and the legislature. Count My Vote was trying to eliminate the caucus and convention system in favor of direct primaries. SB54 created a dual path, which allows parties to keep the caucus/convention system, but also allows candidates to get on a party primary ballot through a signature gathering process. 

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