[REGIONAL NEWS] Utah Supreme Court rules partisan elections for State School Board constitutional

2018: Supreme Court justices Thomas R. Lee, Constandinos Himonas, John A. Pearce and Paige Petersen, from left../Francisco Kjolseth /The Salt Lake Tribune

By Taylor Stevens | The Salt Lake Tribune

Elections for the Utah Board of Education can be partisan, the Utah Supreme Court ruled Wednesday, overturning a lower court’s decision and reinstating a 2016 law that will see education candidates vying for the nominations of political parties beginning next year.

Lawmakers had intended for school board elections to become partisan in 2018. But a group of former board members and education advocacy organizations challenged the law in court, arguing that it violated a prohibition on “religion or partisan tests” for school employment, included in Utah’s constitution.

On Wednesday, justices with the state’s high court rejected those arguments and sided with the state, ruling that while “ambiguity may exist,” members of the state school board are not included in the category of education employees and are therefore not subject to that language.

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