The Sutherland Institute, a conservative non-profit public policy group, is among five organizations supporting Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff in the state’s appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals, 10thCircuit, over the legality of the Voluntary Contributions Act (VCA). The VCA, among other things, prohibits the State of Utah employee payroll system from being used to collect political action committee contributions.
In addition to the Sutherland Institute, the “friend of the court” brief was filed August 29 by the Utah Taxpayers Association, Evergreen Freedom Foundation, Parents for Choice in Education, and National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation.
Paul T. Mero, president of Sutherland Institute, says U.S. District Court Judge Tena Campbell’s May 3 ruling was a setback for good and limited government. “Government school teachers are government employees, not of the school district in which they work but employees of the state that pays them.”
In Judge Campbell’s ruling, the Utah Education Association (UEA) won its claim against the state by arguing that school districts employ teachers, not the state.
In behalf of Sutherland and the other organizations, the brief in part says the District Court’s ruling that the VCA violates the First Amendment is incorrect. “The District Court reached this decision primarily because it determined that property which political subdivisions of the State control cannot be regulated in the same manner as property the State controls directly. This distinction makes no legal difference because political subdivisions of the State of Utah are nothing more than extensions of the State.”