Subpoenas fly as Utah’s gerrymandering lawsuit moves forward

Each of Utah’s four Republican congressmen received subpoenas this week.

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Maps at a news conference held by the Utah’s bipartisan redistricting panel in Taylorsville on Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2021.

All four of Utah’s representatives to the U.S. House have been issued subpoenas as part of a lawsuit alleging new congressional maps adopted by the Utah Legislature last year are an illegal gerrymander. The subpoenas are among a dozen issued by the plaintiffs in that suit this week.

The lawsuit was filed in March by a coalition that includes the League of Women Voters of Utah, Mormon Women for Ethical Government and several individual voters who claim the congressional boundaries approved by the Legislature in 2021 violated the Utah Constitution. The suit names Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson, the Utah Legislature, Utah House Speaker Brad Wilson, Utah Senate President Stuart Adams and the Legislature’s Redistricting Committee as defendants.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs refused to provide a copy of the subpoenas, saying they do not publicly release such documents during litigation.

A source familiar with the case, speaking on background, told The Salt Lake the subpoenas are seeking documents and other records relating to the drawing of the new maps during the redistricting process.

A separate court filing requesting information from the Utah Legislature demonstrates what the plaintiffs seek. They’ve asked for draft maps that weren’t approved by lawmakers, including data and analyses related to those draft plans. Plaintiffs are also seeking any communications with current or former members of Congress or legislators and members of their staff and contacts with Gov. Spencer Cox and Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson and their team.

Plaintiffs are also seeking any contacts between lawmakers and Adam Foltz, a Republican political operative who has played a role in Wisconsin’s 2010 redistricting process that federal judges slammed as “needlessly secret.” In 2021, Foltz was hired by Republicans in the Texas Legislature to help shepherd their redistricting efforts, The Texas Tribune reported.

Lawmakers have also been asked to provide records of any contact with Adam Kincaid, who heads up the National Republican Redistricting Trust, the GOP’s main mapmaking organization.

Other Utahns subpoenaed about the case include former congressman Rob Bishop, who served on the independent redistricting commission until he resigned in protest near the end of the process, former state Rep. Paul Ray, who co-chaired the Legislature’s redistricting committee and Rex Facer, who chaired the independent commission.

The subpoenas were issued after a Utah district judge refused a request by lawyers for the state to throw out the lawsuit.

In a separate court filing from earlier this month, lawyers for the plaintiffs complained lawmakers were hiding behind a claim of “legislative privilege” to avoid answering their questions.

“No Utah court has ever recognized a special ‘legislative privilege’ to refuse to engage in discovery in a civil case, especially when the Legislature and its members have been found to be proper parties,” the filing reads.

Last month, lawyers for the state asked the Utah Supreme Court to intervene and dismiss the case. That request is still pending.