Anti-maskers who cited Book of Mormon and Constitution drop suit against Utah Gov. Gary Herbert

Suit argued government was suspending ‘sacred and fundamental rights.’

(Rick Egan | Tribune file photo via AP) This July 15, 2020, file photo shows protesters during a Provo rally against face masks being required in schools. A lawsuit brought by parents challenging dozens of emergency pandemic orders by Gov. Gary Herbert and the state health department has been dropped.

A group of Utah parents who sued to end Gov. Gary Herbert’s executive orders related to the COVID-19 pandemic asked a judge to dismiss their case last week.

The plaintiffs had used the Book of Mormon, the Utah Constitution and the U.S. Constitution to argue that they hold the freedom to care for and manage their children, and that “government must not support any action in opposition to the desires of a parent.” After the original group of eight parents filed their lawsuit on Sept. 3, nearly three dozen other individuals also filed to intervene as plaintiffs.

Herbert had mandated masks for all K-12 schools in July, but a statewide mask mandate did not come until November.

The lawsuit also sought to nullify a number of other pandemic-related executive orders issued by the governor, including restrictions on gatherings and business operations. The parents named Herbert as well as the Utah Department of Health and its executive director as defendants, claiming the orders meant “Utah has experienced an unprecedented and unlawful suspension of their most sacred and fundamental rights.”

On Dec. 17, the plaintiff’s attorney, J. Morgan Philpot, filed to dismiss the case without a court order “with the parties to bear their own costs and attorney’s fees incurred in this action.” Court records show the case disposition dismissed the following day.

Philpot is a former conservative Republican state lawmaker and congressional candidate who at one time represented Ammon Bundy in the federal conspiracy case against leaders of the anti-government occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon. All the defendants were found not guilty.