The Utah attorney general has agreed not to enforce Utah's new abortion law and three existing laws relating to human fetuses until six months after a court has made a final ruling on their constitutionality.
The state made the concession in U.S. District Court Monday afternoon in exchange for a more reasonable schedule of hearings and trial on the laws. Local attorneys for the American Civil Liberties Union said they had to check with the New York office before agreeing to the state's proposed stipulation.If the state hadn't postponed enforcement of the new law, the American Civil Liberties Union would have immediately sought to block its enforcement with a temporary restraining order and demanded an accelerated trial schedule.
Miles Holman, attorney for the state, told U.S. District Judge Thomas Greene the state did not want to try an issue as weighty and complex as abortion hastily.
Attorneys for the state told Greene they would file their response by May 8 to the federal suit filed Friday that challenges the constitutionality of Utah's abortion law.
Greene scheduled a daylong conference May 16 with attorneys from both sides. He told attorneys he would want to know on that day "where you are going, what you need to do and how long it will take."
Holman conveyed Bangerter's anger over the pseudonym "Jane Liberty" used in the suit to represent women seeking abortions. The name choice makes the suit read "Liberty vs. Bangerter" on many court documents.
"The name was obviously chosen for theatrical purposes and we suggest that is inappropriate here," Holman said. "At the request of the governor, we suggest the pseudonym be of a more neutral nature - along the lines of Jane Doe or Jane Roe."
"We don't believe the name Jane Liberty is theatrical; it's dramatic," said Jeff Orwitt, attorney for the ACLU. The name reflects the nature of the allegations made in the suit, he said.
Greene suggested the ACLU might consider a pseudonym less troubling to the state.
Monday's court appearance by Holman marked the first time the state has been represented by its newly named outside counsel on the abortion law. Attorney General Paul Van Dam said the Salt Lake law firm of Jones, Waldo, Holbrook & McDonough was hired Sunday.
Van Dam said Holman, head of the firm's appellate division, will be the lead litigator in the case, and former Democratic Gov. Calvin Rampton, president of the firm, will act as strategist.
Both will be assisted by Richard Wilkins, the Brigham Young University law school professor who helped draft the law and has advised Gov. Norm Bangerter on the abortion issue.
Van Dam said that BYU President Rex E. Lee, a former U.S. solicitor general, has agreed to be available as a consultant on the case "in the future when and if it becomes appropriate."
The state has agreed to pay Holman $150 an hour and Rampton $220 an hour, the attorney general said, adding that those rates are lower than the attorneys usually charge. Wilkins will earn $50 an hour.