USA v. State of Utah et al
MEMORANDUM DECISION ORDER, PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION. Signed by Judge David Nuffer on 7/19/13. (DN)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF UTAH
The United States of America,
Case No. 2:13-CV-00332-DN
The State of Utah; and Gary R. Herbert,
Governor of the State of Utah, in his official
District Judge David Nuffer
This matter comes before the Court on the United States’ motion for a preliminary
injunction, in which the United States asks the Court to enjoin the enforcement of Sections 5313-106.5(2), 53-13-106.5(4), 53-13-106.5(6), and 76-8-512(4) of the Utah Code. The Court has
received briefing from the parties and an amici curiae memorandum from the Utah Association
of Counties and the Utah Sheriffs Association, and the Court heard oral argument on June 28,
2013. At that time, the Court entered findings from the bench. The Court now enters the
following written order:
The United States is likely to succeed on the merits of its claim that Sections 53-
13-106.5(2), 53-13-106.5(4), 53-13-106.5(6), and 76-8-512(4) (collectively referred to as “the
challenged provisions”) are invalid under the Supremacy Clause of the United States
By virtue of the Property Clause of the United States Constitution, and by
virtue of federal statutes which authorize the Secretaries of the Interior and Agriculture to adopt
regulations, see, e.g., 16 U.S.C. §§ 1, 551; 43 U.S.C. § 1733(a), the agencies may adopt
regulations that assimilate state and/or local law, and that federal agents are authorized to enforce
those federal regulations or federal laws which incorporate state law standards.
The challenged provisions, on their face, purport to limit the
circumstances in which the federal government may exercise law enforcement authority, and to
restrain, constrain, or direct the discretion of the Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary
The United States is likely to succeed on the merits of its claim that the
challenged provisions violate the doctrine of intergovernmental immunity, as the challenged
provisions purport to restrain, inhibit, regulate, retard, impede, or burden the activities of dulyempowered federal agencies, agency heads, federal officers, and employees, as well as the
necessary and proper management of federal lands. See McCulloch v. Maryland, 17 U.S. (4
Wheat) 316, 317 (1819).
The United States is also likely to succeed on the merits of its claim that
the challenged provisions are preempted by federal law, as the challenged provisions would
“stand as an obstacle to the accomplishment and execution of the full purposes and objectives
of Congress.” See Arizona v. United States, 132 S. Ct. 2492, 2501 (2012).
Irreparable harm is likely to result to the United States absent preliminary relief. As
demonstrated by the United States in its motion and in the unrebutted affidavits submitted in support
thereof, the enforcement of the challenged provisions will immediately and irreparably harm the
United States in six distinct ways:
The enforcement of the challenged provisions would harm the
constitutional order by violating the Constitution’s structural reservation of authority to the federal
The enforcement of the challenged provisions would subject certain
federal officers to an imminent risk that they will be criminally charged or arrested for
performing their law enforcement duties.
The enforcement of the challenged provisions would undermine the federal
government’s management of federal lands by denying or purporting to deny authority to protect
The enforcement of the challenged provisions would purport to deny federal
agencies the ability to enforce particular regulations that are necessary for the protection of persons,
property, and natural resources located on public land.
The enforcement of the challenged provisions would create – and already
has created – public confusion regarding the authority of Department of the Interior and the
Department of Agriculture officers to perform their duties, which could result in threats to the
safety of the officers or other members of the public.
The enforcement of the challenged provisions would harm the cooperative
relationship between federal and local law enforcement officials.
The balance of hardships weighs considerably in favor of a preliminary injunction,
and a preliminary injunction will advance the public interest. There is a strong public interest in the
enforcement of laws on federal lands, and the interests of the United States in protecting the lands of
its citizens and the safety of those who use those lands are substantial. On the other hand, a
preliminary injunction will not meaningfully burden Defendants.
For these reasons, and the reasons stated by the Court at the hearing on June 28,
2013, the Court finds that the United States has demonstrated that a preliminary injunction is
appropriate with respect to Sections 53-13-106.5(2), 53-13-106.5(4), 53-13-106.5(6), and 76-8512(4) of the Utah Code.
Accordingly, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that:
Plaintiff United States’ motion for a preliminary injunction is GRANTED.
Defendants and their officers, agents, servants, employees, and attorneys, and
those persons in active concert or participation with them are HEREBY ENJOINED AND
RESTRAINED from giving any effect to or otherwise taking action to enforce Sections 53-13106.5 and 76-8-512(4).
The parties are required to submit briefing on the issue of severability in
accordance with the schedule entered by the Court, and this order may be modified as
appropriate following the conclusion of such briefing.
The temporary restraining order entered by the Court on May 13, 2013, see Dkt.
#9, is hereby lifted.
This order shall become effective immediately, and shall continue in effect until
this Court enters a final judgment in this action or otherwise lifts the preliminary injunction.
Dated July 19, 2013.
BY THE COURT:
United States District Judge
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