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Sean D. Reyes
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Attorney General Reyes Urges U.S. Supreme Court to Empower States to Address Homelessness

This week, Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes joined a coalition of 20 states in filing an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court urging the Court to grant a writ of certiorari to review the Ninth Circuit’s widely criticized decision in City of Grants Pass v. Johnson, which held that the Constitution includes an individual right to sleep and camp on sidewalks, playgrounds, and other public lands. The decision has been disastrous for state and local governments, preventing them from addressing the homelessness crisis meaningfully.

The Ninth Circuit’s deeply flawed decision means that 40% of the country—comprising 65 million people and hundreds of communities—is prevented from enforcing commonplace anti-camping ordinances. This has led to unchecked public encampments, unleashing many public health and safety crises. Medieval diseases such as typhus, shigella, and trench fever are resurfacing in these encampments. Rats and fleas plague these areas, as well as nearby public buildings and homes. Encampments have led to the unsightly and unsanitary smearing of sidewalks, paths, and playgrounds with human feces, discarded needles, and other biohazards.

The coalition of Attorneys General, led by Idaho Attorney General Raúl Labrador and Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen, called on the Supreme Court to correct the Ninth Circuit’s unprecedented decision and return power to state and local governments to address homelessness. Homelessness is a distinctly local issue, and the U.S. Constitution leaves such matters to state and local governments. State and local governments need the freedom to protect their communities from the adverse public health and safety risks of surging homelessness.

Attorneys General from Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia joined the brief led by Idaho and Montana.

Read the petition here.

AGO Opposes Decision to Deny “Good Neighbor” Motion

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH – Last week, a federal judge in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit denied the Motion to Stay in Utah v. EPA, which sought to stop the job-killing final rule for the Federal Implementation Plan (FIP) regulations – otherwise known as the “Good Neighbor Plan.” Utah will not be affected by the recent EPA decision to deny this motion for two reasons:

First, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit has already stayed the EPA’s denial of Utah’s proposed State Implementation Plan and stayed the EPA’s enactment of the FIP pending Utah’s legal challenges to EPA’s decisions.

Second, the EPA itself is issuing an interim final rule staying the FIP execution.

The State of Utah communicated to the Court that it did not identify any emission reduction measures because the state was not significantly contributing to ozone levels in any neighboring state. In fact, Utah’s nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions decreased by 37% from 2011 to 2017. This result is due to our state’s commitment to being environmentally responsible, realizing we are surrounded by other states that have their own unique challenges in this arena.

AGO Recognizes National Hunting and Fishing Day

For all of Utah’s outdoor enthusiasts, happy National Hunting and Fishing Day! Our state is home to some of the best hunting and fishing locations in the country, and many boys, girls, men, and women love to spend time engaging in these activities. As we enter into another fantastic fall season, have fun and remember to look out for others. 

The Utah Attorney General’s Office is working every day to protect your freedoms to enjoy the full potential of hunting and fishing, including the opportunities to partake in our bountiful public lands. Our Office will not sit by as faceless federal bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. scheme to rob Utahns of their liberties across the great outdoors. We will continue to be vigilant and proactive on these fronts.

See you at your favorite hunting and fishing spots!

Utah Attorney General’s Office Celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month

Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes encourages Utahns to celebrate and reflect on all the ways the Hispanic community has helped strengthen our country and enrich the lives of the American people.

The United States is a diverse nation, strengthened by the dedication our Latino citizens have shown to upholding American ideals. They play a significant role in our communities as veterans, educators, first responders, business leaders, athletes, entertainers, elected officials, and much more.

This month is an opportunity for all of us to more fully celebrate and reflect on the ways the Hispanic community has helped strengthen our country and enrich the lives of the American people. E pluribus unum!

AGO Supports ‘Save Women’s Sports Act’ Brief

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH – Attorney General Sean D. Reyes joined the States of Arkansas and Alabama on an amicus brief in support of Arizona’s Save Women’s Sports Act, which has been challenged in federal court. The case Doe v. Horne is currently pending in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

In 2022, the Arizona Legislature passed a law prohibiting biological males from playing on women’s sports teams in public schools or universities. After the law went into effect, the parents of two biological males who wanted to play on their school’s female sports teams filed a lawsuit challenging the law. A U.S. District Court Judge temporarily blocked the law from being enforced, leading Arizona to appeal to the Ninth Circuit. The coalition of attorneys general urge the Ninth Circuit to reverse the lower court’s ruling because States may lawfully classify “females, women, or girls based on their biological sex.”

As the States write in their brief, “This is not a sex-discrimination challenge. Far from demanding all sports go coed, Plaintiffs want to take advantage of sex-segregated sports. This is an underinclusiveness challenge. Plaintiffs ask federal courts to compel Arizona to continue segregating on the basis of sex, but to define ‘girls’ broadly enough to include some biological males. That is, Plaintiffs seek the sex-segregated regime’s benefits by challenging the contours of the segregation. But though separating males and females for the benefit of girls’ sports warrants heightened scrutiny, following the understanding of sex that has endured for millennia does not.”

Joining Utah, Arkansas, and Alabama are the States of Alaska, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

Read the brief here.

AGO Supports Melissa Holyoak’s FTC Nomination Consideration

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH – Today, Melissa Holyoak, Utah’s Solicitor General, was considered by the U.S. Senate’s Commerce Committee to serve as a Commissioner of the Federal Trade Commission. We are very proud of her journey and all that she has accomplished for Utah and hope that her nomination receives a vote soon.

Attorney General Sean D. Reyes remarked, “Today, U.S. Senators and others around the country saw what Utahns have witnessed and benefited from for years: a dynamic and qualified public servant, who is ready to assume her future responsibilities as an FTC Commissioner. We at the Utah Attorney General’s Office are immensely proud of Melissa, and though we will be sad to see her leave our team, we are thrilled to watch her take on this new challenge. Utah’s loss will be America’s gain. We look forward to a quick, bi-partisan Senate vote to confirm her the first Utahn to serve as a Commissioner on the Federal Trade Commission.”

Watch the nominations hearing here. 

AG Reyes Joins Petition Supporting Free Speech Rights Outside Abortion Facilities

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH – Attorney General Sean D. Reyes joined a Petition for Writ of Certiorari to the U.S. Supreme Court in Vitagliano v Westchester asking the Justices to hear arguments in a matter concerning free-speech buffer zones around abortion facilities. The Petition was led by the State of Kentucky. 

The challenge is being brought by a 64-year-old Catholic mother, Debra Vitagliano, who lives in Westchester County, New York. Vitagliano desires to utilize her training as a sidewalk counselor outside of abortion facilities, but she is legally prohibited from doing so by the recently passed Reproductive Health Care Facilities Access Act (2022). The law mirrors Supreme Court precedent in Hill v Colorado (2000), which gives local governments immense latitude in concocting schemes to regulate free speech outside of abortion facilities if the content is not deemed appropriate or lawful. 

In their Petition, the States argue that “Hill is an aberration and should be overruled” and that “[c]ontinued reliance on Hill curtails free-speech rights.” 

According to the coalition of attorneys general, “[T]here is no abortion exception to the First Amendment. Sidewalk counseling is not second-class speech, and government restrictions on it must meet the same standards as every other content-based restriction.” 

Joining Utah and Kentucky on the Petition were the States of Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Iowa, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and West Virginia. 

Read the Petition here.

AG Reyes Says Net Zero Alliance Favors Agenda, Not Investors

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH – Attorney General Sean D. Reyes joined a coalition of States, led by Tennessee, in sending a letter to signatories of the Net Zero Financial Service Providers Alliance (NZFSPA), expressing concerns over the legality of NZFSPA obligations – specifically federal and state antitrust and consumer protection laws.

The States highlight that several signatories, including the “Big Four” accounting firms, are coordinating a radical environmental agenda, spearheaded by groups affiliated with the United Nations “Net Zero” movement, supporting global efforts to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. According to the coalition, the “Big Four” alone consume three-fourths of the accounting industry. These actions likely violate federal and state antitrust laws and consumer disclosure mandates. The letter requests information from NZFSPA signatories to determine the next steps for the coalition to pursue.

The attorneys general write in their letter, “The substantial commitments you have made as NZFSPA signatories give us pause, as they do not appear consistent with our laws protecting consumers. Although many of you are direct competitors with one another, you have collectively agreed to coordinate the ‘alignment’ of your products and services under the guise of a shared ideological vision. By aligning your products and services with the Paris Agreement’s exacting specifications, you are necessarily taking actions to artificially restrict the supply of goods and services in the real economy. These restraints on trade may inhibit innovation, suppress output, and harm consumers.”

Joining Utah and Tennessee on this letter were the States of Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Ohio, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

Read the letter here.

Attorney General’s Office Charges EXITUS CEO with Multiple Felonies

On Friday, the Utah Attorney General’s Office charged Candace Lierd (a.k.a. Candace Rivera) with 34 felonies related to fraudulent activity at EXITUS, a Utah non-profit, anti-human trafficking corporation.

Lierd was arrested Friday morning for engaging in a pattern of unlawful activity, including communications fraud, theft by deception, theft of services, identity fraud, forgery, and unlawful conduct.

An Attorney General’s Office investigation uncovered evidence that Candace Lierd repeatedly made false representations to donors, who gave money to support the fight against human trafficking. Some of the money Lierd used for personal expenses, including homes, apartments, cars, and trips. Lierd claimed to be a physician, physician’s assistant, and registered nurse but was never licensed or registered in Utah.

Lierd is currently held in the Utah County Jail without bond as the investigation continues.

Read the probable cause affidavit here.

AG Reyes Sends Letter to Ensure Local Input on Fish and Wildlife Policy

Attorney General Sean D. Reyes joined a comment letter, led by the State of Alabama, to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service opposing proposed rules that would expand the federal government’s authority to designate land as endangered species habitat without cooperation from states as required by law.

The States rise in opposition to the proposed regulations because the Endangered Species Act requires the Fish and Wildlife Service to “cooperate to the maximum extent practicable with the States” in designating endangered species habitats, placing important constraints on the Service’s ability to define new habitats. In their letter, the attorneys general argue that the proposed rules circumvent these essential constraints and highlight their disappointment with the agency’s attempt “to resurrect aspects of rules many of the States have already challenged as unlawful without even conducting a federalism impact statement as required.”

The attorneys general add, “As the chief legal officers of our States, we take seriously the responsibility to steward resources and care for the diversity of wildlife in our States. Long before federal agencies were created for such purposes, the Constitution recognized that States have the primary legal responsibility for wildlife protection and administration. Congress did the same when it enacted the Endangered Species Act, directing the Services to ‘cooperate to the maximum extent practicable with the States.’ States know their resources best and are uniquely positioned to engage in creative conservation efforts that work with, rather than against, private landowners and businesses to spur species recovery and protection.”

Joining Utah and Alabama were the States of Alaska, Arkansas, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

Read the letter here.