SALT LAKE CITY — Despite pleas that the criminalization of blacklisting stems from Cold War hysteria, the Utah Senate voted Monday to purge the law from the state's criminal statues.

Sen. Daniel Thatcher, R-West Valley City, said the criminal law is outdated and not used to prosecute the activity. Instead, victims file civil lawsuits, he said.

"This is something that should not be handled under the criminal code. It should be handled as a civil matter," Thatcher said, noting he could not find a single instance when the law had been used to address the issue.

Sen. Gene Davis, D-Salt Lake, said the law should remain on the books to discourage abuses. "It really came from the 1950s in Hollywood and the anti-communist tenor of the Cold War," Davis said. "That's why that action is illegal and why we should keep it on the books."

Sen. John Valentine, R-Orem, said the issue boils down to "the adequacy of the remedy." Handling blacklisting claims as a civil matter is a "much higher sanction."

The statute "is outdate, essentially useless code," Thatcher said.

The Senate apparently agreed, forward the bill to a final reading on a vote of 20-5., Marjorie Cortez