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How Much Force are Utah Police Using?

August 14, 2015  |  Posted in: Blog  |  2 comments

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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Utah Attorney General’s Office Seeks to Dismiss Common Core Lawsuit

August 3, 2015  |  Posted in: Blog  |  One comment

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.

Libertas Institute Announces New Director of Development

July 27, 2015  |  Posted in: Blog  |  2 comments

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


Fall 2015 Research Internship Available

July 21, 2015  |  Posted in: Blog  |  No comments

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.

The U.S. Supreme Court: Renegade Judges Reshaping America

June 25, 2015  |  Posted in: Blog  |  3 comments

This morning, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its opinion in the King v. Burwell case. At issue were the subsidies for federal health insurance exchanges in states that had not set up their own. In a 6-3 decision upholding the law, the Court ruled that when Congress referenced an exchange “established by the State,” they actually meant “established by the State or the Federal Government.”

Predictably, the dissent—issued by Justice Scalia—pointed out the absurdity of this approach. “Words no longer have meaning,” he wrote, “if an Exchange that is not established by a State is ‘established by the State.'”

But these linguistic gymnastics are part and parcel of the nation’s highest court; calling a “penalty” a tax, as in another Obamacare suit, or claiming that commerce among the several states means any transaction—or potential transaction—by any single individual anywhere, is a drop in the ocean of awful and expansive jurisprudence that has, in its totality, given to Congress a default green light—a presumption of constitutionality for whatever it wants to do.

The degree to which the Court has become disconnected from the founding document it is supposed to interpret and uphold is especially evident in this King opinion, in which the majority opinion says this:

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