SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Supreme Court dismissed former congressman Merrill Cook's case challenging the state's initiative petition process Tuesday.
The five-member panel determined Cook has a "plain, speedy and adequate remedy" in district court.
Cook is frustrated with a legislative change that affects how long petition signatures can be gathered for ballot initiatives. He told the state's high court last week that a change in March 2011 that allowed 316 days for the initiative process was "absolutely devastating to the constitutional rights of the citizens of Utah."
Cook said he and those seeking signatures for their lawful employment initiative aimed at curtailing the hiring of illegal immigrants were stymied by the new parameters and asked the court to issue an order giving them either 45 days before the 2012 election to gather signatures or 120 days before the 2014 election.
Currently, those seeking to get an initiative on the ballot have 316 days or until April 15, whichever comes first, to gather their signatures. Cook said he and the other members of the political issues committee Citizens Aligned To Secure Utah's Prosperity were not able to utilize the fair weather months to do their work.
Assistant attorney general Thom Roberts told the court that the time allotted by the Legislature was sufficient and achieved its purpose.