Attorneys for Utah don't like the sound of "Liberty vs. Bangerter."
In fact, they think it's "impertinent."That's what state attorney Miles Hol-man called it in a motion he has filed in federal court seeking to have the name "Jane Liberty" changed to a more neutral pseudonym. Hol-man wants U.S. District Judge J. Thomas Greene to order the name change.
Jane Liberty is the pseudonym for a pregnant northern Utah woman who challenged Utah's new abortion law in an April 5 lawsuit against Bangerter.
"I can see no reason for using that name," Holman said. "We aren't opposed to a pseudonym. We just want a neutral one."
To date, the American Civil Liberties Union has thumbed its nose at Holman's request. If anything, the organization has added impertinence to impertinence by bringing a new plaintiff into the case: Jane Freedom.
Freedom, five months pregnant, is challenging a state law prohibiting the use of experimental medicine on unborn children.
The ACLU's use of controversial pseudonyms in Utah and elsewhere caught the eye of New York Times Times columnist David Margolick.
He explored the organization's penchant for allegorical plaintiffs in a column Friday. Janet Benshoof, director of ACLU's reproductive freedom project, told the Times that in the face of shifting opinions on abortion, the pro-choice movement needs more compelling names than "Roe" or "Doe."
"Feminist leaders were fine when Roe v. Wade was secure, but now I've had to go for more spiritual powers," she told the Times. Something loftier than mere names, she said.
"But `Miss Liberty' has gotten a harsher reception in Salt Lake City than she ever faced in New York Harbor," Margolick noted in his column.
Utah State Attorney General Paul Van Dam called Benshoof and told her the choice of "Jane Liberty" upset Bangerter and asked her to change it, the story said.
At an April 8 hearing, Holman told Greene the same thing: Bangerter is offended by the name Jane Liberty and wants it changed.
Greene wasn't inclined to order a name change, so Holman filed a formal motion seeking the change.
"The governor is using taxpayers' money to get the name of the lawsuit changed?" asked Michele Parish, director of Utah's ACLU. "My response to that is `Lighten up, Norm!' "
But it's unclear whether it's Bangerter himself or his aides who are upset over the name "Liberty."
Bangerter has been silent on the subject. "It's not a big deal to the governor," said Bud Scruggs, Bangerter's chief of staff.
And Holman conceded that his push to have Liberty's name changed "is not directly at the governor's request."
But Scruggs left no question about how he felt about the name.
"I just think `Liberty v. Bangerter' or `Liberty v. Utah' is inflammatory," he said. "The ACLU does not seem content to argue the case on its legal merits. They're continuing to politicize the issue in a way that's not entirely wholesome."
If it's any consolation, the ACLU is politicizing the issue across the nation. The ACLU filed - and recently won - a case asserting the right to obtain an abortion in New York.
The plaintiff: Jane Hope.
Benshoof suggested to the Times that if Bangerter is embarrassed by the name "Liberty," he should go under a pseudonym himself.
Benshoof suggested changing the name of the case to "Liberty v. Governor Johnson."
The organization shows no signs of abandoning allegorical plaintiffs. In which case, Bangerter and his troops may have more troublesome pseudonyms ahead.
The ACLU is looking for a pregnant woman who lives in the rural areas of Idaho, Wyoming or Nevada to represent the class of women from other states coming to Utah for an abortion.
If the ACLU adds her as a plaintiff in its Liberty suit, it will probably use a pseudonym for her, too.