Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill told a group of supporters that he sees no reason why the state’s legal minds need to be “re-educated” with a tea party-backed bill mandating continuing education on states’ rights.
HB 120 – Continuing Education on Federalism, sponsored by Representative Ken Ivory (Republican – West Jordan) would require any attorney working for the state of Utah undergo refresher courses on the concept of Federalism.
Ivory contends that such legislation is needed so that Utah might pursue policies independent of what he calls the federal government’s continuing “overreach,” especially on the matter of public lands and the potential revenues these lands represent. An outspoken critic of the current administration in Washington, DC, Ivory is the chief sponsor of the bill which also requires inclusion of “the history and practical implementation of the Tenth Amendment to the United States Constitution” as part of the curriculum, and that the coursework be administered by the state’s “Commission on Federalism.”
The Tenth Amendment is known as the “States Rights” Amendment to the Constitution. The Amendment itself states that powers not given to the United States through the Constitution are to be held within the individual states within the Union. The Tea Party movement has advocated for a strict reading of the Amendment, feeling that, unless something is expressly written into the Constitution, the Federal Government is to have no jurisdiction in any particular matter.
In his candid and extemporaneous remarks, Gill said that HB 120 requires anybody who is “law-trained” and a government employee to take a class which he calls “re-education,” and which he contends is unwarranted. He feels that the entire states’ rights movement is misguided because the country is a nation united by all 50 states. Gill went on to emphasize that while he supports continuing education for lawyers, it is in the power of the judiciary and the Supreme Court, not the legislative branch, to dictate what should be considered proper training.
The text of HB 120 sets forth several requirements which pertain to those employees of the state and all political subdivisions “whose job description requires that the employee be a member of the Utah State Bar.” But Gill says that “I don’t need to fight with the federal government… When we [attorneys] have to defend the state, we defend the state, and when we have to defend our positions, we defend our positions, and I don’t need a lecture or an education to tell me what is right, what is constitutional and what is legal.”
Ivory’s bill caused a big stir earlier last week, after it was discovered that his re-education classes would apply not only to attorneys, but would also require judges themselves to attend. After a story about that came out in the Salt Lake Tribune, Ivory said on Twitter that he was amending the bill to exclude judges.
Representative Ivory is one of the most outspoken advocates for a takeover of Federal lands within the state. He has sponsored bills claiming that Utah should have control of Federal lands, so that the state could then sell or lease them for profit.