Gov. Norm Bangerter did not want Attorney General Paul Van Dam to represent the state in the ACLU lawsuit against the state's abortion law, the governor's top aide said.
"That's not what we wanted. We appreciate Mr. Van Dam's seeking of outside counsel. Mr. Van Dam expressed during the session reservations about this legislation," Chief of Staff Bud Scruggs said Thursday.During the legislative session, Bangerter relied on Scruggs, an attorney, and Richard Wilkins, a Brigham Young University law professor, for legal advice on the issue.
The attorney general had said the law is unconstitutional based on the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortion but that justices appear to be willing to reconsider Roe vs. Wade.
The decision to turn to outside counsel was made, Van Dam has said, because his office doesn't have enough attorneys or the time to handle the case, which could take more than three years to reach the Supreme Court.
Van Dam's solicitor general, Jan Graham, said earlier this week that the public perception that the Democratic attorney general would not defend the bill zealously enough also entered into the decision.
"We would have done a fine job on this case," Graham said. "(But) moving this case out of the office helped to de-politicize not the issue but the lawsuit."