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Thursday, May 23, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Court Tosses Voter Suit Over New School District

(CN) - The 10th Circuit dismissed a challenge to a Utah law barring outsiders from voting in an election that reduced the size of their existing school district. Utah's so-called "detachment law" advances a legitimate state interest by "promoting local control of public school districts by extending the franchise only to those voters who will reside in the new district," Judge Timothy Tymkovich wrote.

In 2007, several cities within the Jordan School District -- then one of the 40 largest districts in the country -- agreed to detach from the district. Only residents in the proposed new district could vote in the election.

Shortly before the election, several voters who lived within the Jordan School District, but outside the proposed new district, claimed their exclusion from voting violating the Constitution's equal protection principles.

In dismissing the lawsuit, the district court said the law passes muster because it advances legitimate state policies. The Denver-based federal appeals court agreed.

"The detaching cities provide a litany of justifications for the law, including, among many others, supporting the creation of community-based school districts, encouraging the creation of smaller school districts more responsive to the needs of students and parents, and promoting the localized use of tax revenues so that taxes collected within a local area are used for education in the same area," Judge Tymkovich wrote.

"These justifications attest to the statute's constitutionality."

The detaching cities were Cottonwood Heights, Sandy City, Draper City, Midvale City and Alta, which was not a party to the lawsuit.

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