The Utah Attorney General's Office released an opinion today stating that there is a "substantial likelihood" that the school district division law, which allows only some residents of a district to vote, would hold up in court.
The opinion, requested by [Speaker] Greg Curtis, R-Sandy, may influence the final votes needed as politicians decide whether to put the division of the state's two largest school districts on the ballot this fall.
"It's really based on this idea that cities, as political subdivisions of the state, have a duty to their citizens," said Attorney General Mark Shurtleff.
I haven't read the opinion, but I wonder why Shurtleff is doing his best impression of Gonzales these days. That is, he tells the Republican powers that they want to hear, regardless of whether it is good/sound legal advice.
Riverton Mayor Bill Applegarth is not so sure [about Shurtleff's opinion].
"I think there's enough doubt here that it needs to go to court," Applegarth said.
Alta, Cottonwood Heights, Draper, Midvale and Sandy all have voted to let their residents decide whether to break away from the Jordan School District. In a separate movement in Granite district, elected leaders are poised to vote on putting the question to Holladay, South Salt Lake and Millcreek township voters in the coming weeks.
Several west-side officials contend that SB30, passed during the 2007 legislative session, is unconstitutional under the 14th Amendment's guarantee of one man, one vote. As the law is written, only voters in cities proposing to split from a school district would vote on the issue.
The Taylorsville City Council told the mayor Wednesday night that he had its unanimous support in allocating funds for a lawsuit to challenge the law. Other west-side cities are preparing to take similar action to pool their resources for the legal fight.
I agree with Shurtleff that the standard of review is the whole ball game, but I don't think necessarily that he will get the "rational review" standard. There are minority populations in some of these areas, which might trigger strict scrutiny.
Anyway, today is ethics and evidence for me. Can you believe that they test ethics every year on the Utah bar exam? And really you will get tripped up if you try to be too ethical, you have to be sorta ethical, sorta ruthless for your client.