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The following op-ed was published this weekend in the Salt Lake Tribune. It is a condensed version of a letter sent to members of the Administrative Rules Review Committee last week.

Utah law affirms that “the state’s role is secondary and supportive to the primary role of a parent.” If you’re a parent of a child in public school, this is more theory than practice—without your consent, and likely without your knowledge, the state is collecting large amounts of data on your child in a centralized database, and sharing that information with corporations and the federal government.

In 2009, former Governor Jon Huntsman signed an application to the U.S. Department of Education, the purpose of which was to obtain federal “stimulus” dollars. Without legislative authorization or guarantee, the Governor unilaterally made four assurances to the federal government—a required step in order to receive any money. Among other policy commitments, the assurances included a binding promise to “establish a longitudinal data system.” Within a year’s time, Utah had been showered with $742 million through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. 

Utah lawmakers—and thus the public at large—were left out of the loop. This trend continued, with the Utah State Office of Education receiving a $9.6 million grant to create the Utah Data Alliance—a conglomerate of state agencies managing the database with your child’s information. Their operations are not governed by state or federal law, but only by the promises made in the grant application and a “memorandum of understanding” between Alliance members.

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Last year, Libertas Institute proposed legislation to bring transparency to law enforcement, specifically to high-risk warrants and SWAT team deployments. The first annual report—a requirement of the legislation—was published today by the Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice.

The report includes information provided by law enforcement agencies around the state for the year 2014. Sadly, and in violation of the law, only 75% of agencies contacted provided information for the report.

Here are the key findings from the report:

  • There were 559 unique incidents in 2014, defined as a search warrant served using forcible entry (no knock or knock and announce) as well as all deployments of tactical teams.
  • Warrants were utilized in 96% of all reported incidents, with forcible entry being
    employed 61%
    of the time.
  • 83% of forcible entry warrants dealt with drug crimes.
  • Weapons were only present in 0.5% of the incidents reported.
  • Less than 1% of incidents resulted in an officer discharging his or her firearm.
  • Three civilians were injured and three were killed in 2014, with zero law enforcement fatalities/injuries.

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This past week, a nursing mother was told to leave a Layton business because she was nursing. The woman claims that the establishment “broke the law” and that she “knows her rights,” and for that reason called a police officer to back her up. Facing pressure, the company issued a statement which reads, in part: “We fully respect and support the rights of women to breastfeed in public as supported by Utah law.”

What does Utah law actually say about breastfeeding? (Hint: the woman is wrong, and the company is right—sort of.)

There are only a handful of laws dealing with breastfeeding in Utah. Section 17-15-25 states that county governments may not prohibit breastfeeding “in any location where [the woman] otherwise may rightfully be…” This is not a statutorily recognized right, but rather a prohibition against county governments banning the action in places where nursing mothers have the right to be. Section 10-8-41 has the same reference, but to boards of commissioners and city councils.

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One year ago, Libertas Institute announced a lawsuit against the State Board of Education over its adoption of Common Core, alleging that the Board had violated two laws in so doing—both of which dealt with public notice and input. The Board’s violation thus prevented Utahns from seeking to alter or oppose the untested standards, and led to them being hastily implemented in this state.

Since that time, attorneys for the plaintiffs have been involved in discovery requests, reviewing documents generated by the Board relative to Common Core’s adoption and implementation. However, the Attorney General’s office has now filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit altogether.

The AG’s office, representing the Board, claims the following:

  1. The plaintiffs cannot bring the lawsuit against the Board, because the clock has run out—the “statute of limitations” has expired, and so no lawsuit against Common Core’s implementation is valid.
  2. The plaintiffs must file an administrative appeal through the Board itself, rather than suing in court.
  3. The plaintiffs lack legal standing to sue the Board, and therefore the lawsuit should be dismissed.
  4. The plaintiffs failed to state a valid claim upon which relief may be granted.

You can read the AG’s 36-page brief here. It is effectively a procedural argument, attacking the plaintiff’s standing, the court’s ability to even hear the case, and the timing of the lawsuit itself. Critics might reasonably infer that because the Board’s violation of the law is clear, this is a desperate attempt to make the lawsuit go away without arguing the merits of the arguments themselves.

The attorneys for the plaintiffs—a group of educators, employers, and parents—have just filed a 17-page motion in opposition to the AG’s request, which you can read here. The arguments are as follows:

The statute of limitations does not apply; the clock has not run out

Challenging administrative rules must be done within two or four years of an agency’s rule’s “effective” date, but the Common Core standards have never become effective as that term is defined under law, because the standards were never adopted as a rule; there is no effective date if there is no rule. Additionally, the standards were not “operative and enforceable” until 2014, making the filing of the plaintiffs’ claims well within the two or four year statute of limitations.

The plaintiffs can’t file an administrative appeal; the court does have jurisdiction

The court has subject matter jurisdiction because administrative remedies were unavailable to the plaintiffs, as the Common Core standards were never adopted as a rule—a prerequisite to making an administrative challenge. The plaintiffs’ only recourse is to file a lawsuit to force the Board to use the administrative process in adopting and implementing CCS, so that the plaintiffs can then seek administrative remedies. The Board is effectively seeking to deny the plaintiffs any remedy by refusing to follow the law.

The plaintiffs clearly have standing to sue the Board

The plaintiffs have traditional standing in seeking declaratory relief by the court. They suffered a palpable injury because they were not allowed an opportunity to give input on the Common Core standards under the Utah Administrative Rulemaking Act (UARA). They also have statutory standing both under the UARA and Utah Code § 53A-1-402.6(1). UARA allows an interested person to request the making, amendment, or repeal of a rule. Utah Code § 53A-1-402.6(1) requires the Board to consult with school boards, school superintendents, teachers, employers, and parents when implementing core standards. Both statutes afford the plaintiffs statutory standing to bring this action, in addition to the declaratory relief law.

The plaintiffs also have public-interest standing in seeking declaratory relief, as they are appropriate parties and the violation of UARA is an issue of significant public importance. The claims raised by the plaintiffs are justiciable. By granting them declaratory relief, the court will settle the issue of whether Common Core standards should be implemented as a rule and subject to the administrative procedure. The plaintiffs can then challenge the standards under UARA as intended by the statute.

The plaintiffs do have a valid claim upon which relief may be granted

The Board argued that since the standards only affect students, the plaintiffs do not have a valid claim and therefore cannot seek judicial relief. But the Common Core standards apply to parents, teachers, school employees, and students—not only to students enrolled in state education institutions as asserted by the Board. Thus, the rulemaking procedures of UARA are applicable to the Common Core standards.

Obviously, the motions themselves contain far more detail than is here presented. Suffice it to say that the Attorney General’s office is avoiding the merits of the plaintiffs’ arguments by repeatedly delaying the procedural hurdles involved in the lawsuit (they had a few things going on with same-sex marriage) and now attempting to quash the lawsuit altogether. The plaintiffs and their attorneys remain quite convinced of the procedural and substantive merits of the case, and eagerly anticipate a favorable judicial review of this motion so that we can move on to the arguments themselves, and force the Board to comply with the law.

The Utah legislature intended for education standards to be vetted and discussed prior to statewide implementation; changing what hundreds of thousands of children are learning about is something that requires public input and awareness. As such, both the rulemaking process and statute itself require public input and involvement—both of which were denied while Common Core was quickly pushed through, despite these standards never being piloted, researched, or proven prior to implementation. Utah children were therefore turned into pedagogical guinea pigs by the Board’s mandate. We seek to hold the Board accountable.

Last week, Sam DuBose was shot in the face and killed by a University of Cincinnati police officer, Ray Tensing, after being pulled over for not having a front license plate on his vehicle. Today, the officer was indicted for murder—a result that would not have happened, were it not for the officer’s body camera.

Officer Tensing’s statement to the reporting police officer affirms that Tensing “began to be dragged by a male black driver who was operating a 1998 Green Honda Accord.” Tensing claims that “he almost was run over by the driver of the Honda Accord and was forced to shoot the driver with his duty weapon.”

Another officer, Phillip Kidd, offered corroborating testimony to the reporting officer, affirming that he witnessed the Honda Accord drag Officer Tensing, and that he witnessed Officer Tensing [subsequently] fire a single shot.

Both officers lied.

Read more »

Libertas Institute announces its latest hire—our new director of development: Katie Hood!

Katie Hood is a communications and public relations professional with administrative and leadership experience across a varied range of industries. Her past positions have involved content branding, organizational training, and corporate marketing. Katie is a “people person” looking to empower others to make a difference, and brings this exciting energy to Libertas’ networking and fundraising efforts.

Katie graduated Summa Cum Laude from Utah Valley University and received Service Scholar honors for completing over 300 hours of university and community leadership and service initiatives.

Katie’s experiences in education, service, and community relations bolster Libertas Institute’s reputation for working towards a free and moral society. A Georgia native, Katie now lives in Provo, Utah.

Curious to know more? Send Katie an email at


Libertas Institute has a fall research internship available for college students or recent graduates. Join our successful organization to help advance the cause of liberty in Utah!

We are in need of policy research assistance to prepare some of the legislative proposals Libertas will be advancing in the 2016 general session beginning in January. See here for an example of recent policies we worked on.

Job responsibilities

  • Research assigned policies spanning a broad spectrum of subjects
  • Compile, sort, and analyze data
  • Prepare reports and summarize data
  • Write articles on assigned topics


  • Must be interested in and aware of the political process
  • Understanding of, and passion for, liberty
  • High attention to detail
  • Excellent research and writing skills
  • Social media experience


These are unpaid positions, though we will gladly work with your school to provide credit if that is an option. Any necessary expenditures related to assigned work will be reimbursed. 

Interns will work in Lehi on a part-time basis, either a morning or afternoon shift. The length of the internship will roughly match the fall semester schedule, though we are flexible to work around the intern’s needs.


Interested students should submit a résumé and two writing samples to with “Research internship application” in the subject line.

In 2009, the long-time lawyer for the National Education Association (NEA), Bob Chanin, gave a farewell speech to a crowd of thousands of assembled delegates at the organization’s annual conference. In a moment of startling frankness, Mr. Chanin revealed the core concern and focus of this large and politically powerful education union.

“Despite what some among us would like to believe,” NEA’s effectiveness “is not because of our creative ideas,” he said. “It is not because of the merit of our positions. It is not because we care about children, and it is not because we have a vision of a great public school for every child.” Having made that clear, he moved on to his point:

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The following op-ed by our vice president, DJ Schanz, was published this weekend in the Salt Lake Tribune.

By their own admission, many same-sex marriage proponents view the Supreme Court’s recent ruling more as the beginning—and certainly not the end—of a larger legislative and judicial war. This contention has exhausted hundreds of millions of dollars and man hours. Even worse, it has turned neighbors into enemies.

You don’t see such hostility between Mormons and Catholics regarding the form and method of baptism. The former church believes that baptizing infants is a “mockery before God” whereas the latter considers it “an immemorial tradition of the Church.” Each group disagrees with the other, but not to the point of bitterness and public strife.

Obviously, there is no government definition of baptism; one denomination has not been able to impose its doctrinal position on their peers through the force of law. As such, there is no attempt to wrest control of political power to modify and expand that definition to be more inclusive. Each group operates in a “live and let live” fashion, using persuasion to convince others.

Read more »

Salt Lake City, UT (June 26, 2015) — In response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s opinion this morning, legalizing same-sex marriages throughout the nation, Libertas Institute president Connor Boyack issued the following response:

“Our LGBT friends have good reason to be happy today, but those concerned about our laws and legal structure have great cause for alarm. As Chief Justice Roberts said in his dissent, ‘The majority’s decision is an act of will, not legal judgment. The right it announces has no basis in the Constitution or this Court’s precedent… Just who do we think we are?’

“Today’s opinion—and let’s be clear, that’s all it is—provides an opportunity for lawmakers to reconsider their long-standing support for government intervention in such an important societal relationship. In the coming months, we will be encouraging elected officials to consider a proposal to repeal government licensure of marriage, allowing churches, notaries public, and others to privately officiate and sanction these unions.

“Despite what some lawyers think, there is no ‘fundamental right’ to a government permission slip. The long-standing violation of the sacred union of marriage—encouraged by those looking to shape society to match their vision—needs to be fixed.”

A similar proposal recently passed the Alabama State Senate 22-3, but the legislature adjourned before it was considered in the House. Libertas Institute is encouraging supporters to sign this petition.