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Protecting the Bill of Rights in Utah since 1958

Slevin v. Salt Lake County Fair (1998)

10 January 1999 Published in Resolved Cases

Free Expression and Participatory Democracy - In fall 1998, John Slevin and John Guido sought to circulate petitions at the Salt Lake County Fair in Murray. While County Fair officials originally granted permission to circulate the petitions, they then arbitrarily revoked their permission and had the plaintiffs arrested on criminal trespass charges. The criminal trespass charges were later dropped, and the ACLU of Utah and cooperating attorney Brian Barnard filed a civil rights lawsuit on the petitioners’ behalf. Rather than pursue pointless litigation over a clear civil rights violation, the County opted to settle.

Ironically, the petitions were in support of a referendum to send legislation making English Utah’s official language directly to the House floor during the 1999 legislative session. In 1998, the ACLU of Utah successfully opposed the same English-only bill because of our concerns that if passed, it would violate the due process and Equal Protection rights of Utahns who are not yet proficient in English. Regardless of our position on the underlying issues, the ACLU of Utah is committed to the right to advocate political views and circulate petitions.