SALT LAKE CITY — A federal appeals court overturned a Utah law that stopped the automatic collection of public employees’ payroll contributions for political activity.
The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver, ruling in Utah Education Association v. Shurtleff, said the law enacted in 2001 by the Utah Legislature was unconstitutional.
A three-judge panel upheld a ruling from U.S. District Judge Tena Campbell in Salt Lake City.
The Legislature passed the law to stop voluntary payroll deductions from being collected for political activity by government-employee unions. Only membership dues could be collected by payroll deduction.
The Jan. 10 ruling gives school districts, counties and municipalities the ability to renew payroll deductions for political fundraising by unions, Utah Assistant Attorney General Nancy Kemp said.
Attorney General Mark Shurtleff will decide whether to appeal the decision after speaking to state legislators, she said.
Utah could ask the full appeals court to review the case or file an appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court, she said.
The 10th Circuit panel held that Utah’s so-called “paycheck protection” law violates the First Amendment because it “burdens political speech.”