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Utah AG Defends Law to Protect Native American Children

January 15, 2019

Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes joined a bipartisan coalition of 21 state attorneys general on Monday in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals to defend the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) in Brakeen v. Zinke. 

ICWA is a 40-year-old federal law that furthers the best interests of Native American children and protects the sovereignty of Indian tribes by preserving children’s connections to their tribal heritage. It was first enacted in 1943 as a response to a history of culturally insensitive and ignorant removal of Indian children from their birth families.

ICWA’s purpose is to “protect the best interests of Indian children and promote the stability and security of Indian tribes and families by the establishment of minimum Federal standards” to be utilized in child welfare proceedings involving Native American children.

Attorneys general in the states of California, Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin joined Attorney General Reyes in arguing that ICWA is an appropriate exercise of Congress’s broad authority to legislate in the field of Indian affairs and does not violate the Tenth Amendment or equal protection principles.

The brief highlights ICWA’s important role in reducing disparities in child removal rates and improving the collaboration between states and tribes relating to their shared interest in improving the health and welfare of Native American children.

“The future of our Native American nations relies upon their youth learning and integrating the proud history, traditions and culture of their people within our broader society. ICWA accomplishes this while still providing needed protections to indigenous children,” said Attorney General Reyes. “I’m pleased to work in a bipartisan effort with sister states to defend this law. ICWA works in Utah. The State supports it and our First Nation friends support it. ICWA properly balances the safety and needs of children along with tribal and societal interests.”

Read the full press release here: https://attorneygeneral.utah.gov/ag-protects-native-american-children/

Photo by Visit Mississippi

ICYMI: Law Enforcement Give Back

Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes, AG Investigators, and the Unified Police Department teamed up just before Christmas to spread some holiday spirit and to give back to the community. Over two dozen Utahns were pulled over for real traffic violations, but instead of receiving a ticket, they received cash, gift certificates, and other prizes, much to the delight and relief of the drivers.

Attorney General Reyes came up with the idea after he’d seen similar pranks done by other agencies on YouTube.  “We’ve got law enforcement men and women who really care beyond just being great professionals, they’re human beings and they want to lift people,” said Attorney General Reyes.

This is the second year the Attorney General’s Office and the Unified Police Department have joined together for what is now becoming their favorite tradition.

Check out the coverage below:

KUTV: Orem police give out gifts instead of tickets

ABC 4: Operation Giveback

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Photo by Lester Rojas

Utah Attorney General's Office

AG Reyes Expresses Concern About Japanese Internment Comments

[Correction: This updates language from a previous draft and notes that President-elect Trump has rejected the concept of a registry based on an individual’s religion.]

SALT LAKE CITY November 21, 2016 — Attorney General Sean D. Reyes, who is of mixed- Japanese descent, today expressed concern about comments reported in national media last week that justify the creation of a national Muslim registry, citing the Japanese internment during World War II as legal precedent. An Aspen-Rodel Fellow, Attorney General Reyes learned of the comments upon return from the three-day Aspen Institute seminar on public policy and civility. 

“When President Ronald Reagan signed the Civil Liberties Act in 1988, apologizing for the Japanese internment during World War II, it was a significant acknowledgment of the humiliation, degradation, and pain suffered by thousands in the Japanese-American community, including some of my own friends and family. These were loyal American citizens stripped of their rights, freedom, and hard-earned property based solely on heritage.

“Reference to the Japanese internment as a legal prerogative for any policy is offensive and counter to the highest ideals to which we aspire as a nation.  I join in President Reagan’s past recognition of the injustice of the Japanese internment, as well as in President-elect Donald Trump’s rejection of the formulation of a registry or system that tracks individuals based on their religion. 

“Like many Americans, I am gravely concerned about national security and the threat of radical groups that would do us harm. And, collectively, we will continue to grapple with difficult decisions balancing the safety of our country and the liberties to which we are all entitled. The justification for whatever policies we adopt cannot be rooted in the Japanese internment or any of the other darkest mistakes in our nation’s history, from slavery and segregation to sterilization and extermination. These are not the ideals of a free people.” 

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Utah Attorney General's Office

Maker of Opioid Addiction Treatment Drug Suboxone Accused of Conspiring to Keep Monopoly Profits

SALT LAKE CITY September 23, 2016 – Attorney General Sean Reyes and 36 other attorneys general today filed an antitrust lawsuit against the makers of Suboxone, a prescription drug used to treat opioid addiction, over allegations that the companies engaged in a scheme to block generic competitors and cause purchasers to pay artificially high prices.

Reckitt Benckiser Pharmaceuticals, now known as Indivior, is accused of conspiring with MonoSol Rx to switch Suboxone from a tablet version to a film (that dissolves in the mouth) in order to prevent or delay generic alternatives and maintain monopoly profits.

The companies are accused of violating state and federal antitrust laws.

“This is a crucial drug to combatting opioid addiction and abuse, which has grown to epidemic proportions in our state and nation,” said Attorney General Sean Reyes. “This lawsuit seeks to restore competition, which is always good for the consumer, especially when it comes to pricing. We feel it is yet another way our office can stand up for the average citizen.”

Suboxone is a brand-name prescription drug used to treat heroin addiction and other opioid addictions by easing addiction cravings. No generic alternative of the tape version is currently available.

According to the lawsuit, when Reckitt introduced Suboxone in 2002 (in tablet form), it had exclusivity protection that lasted for seven years, meaning no generic version could enter the market during that time. Before that period ended, however, Reckitt worked with MonoSol to create a new version of Suboxone – a dissolvable film, similar in size to a breath strip. Over time, Reckitt allegedly converted the market away from the tablet to the film through marketing, price adjustments, and other methods. Ultimately, after the majority of Suboxone prescriptions were written for the film, Reckitt removed the tablet from the U.S. market.

The attorneys general allege that this conduct was illegal “product hopping,” where a company makes modest changes to its product to extend patent protections so other companies can’t enter the market and offer cheaper generic alternatives. According to the suit, the Suboxone film provided no real benefit over the tablet and Reckitt continued to sell the tablets in other countries even after removing them from the U.S. market. Reckitt also allegedly expressed unfounded safety concerns about the tablet version and intentionally delayed FDA approval of generic versions of Suboxone.

As a result, the attorneys general allege that consumers and purchasers have paid artificially high monopoly prices since late 2009 when generic alternatives of Suboxone might otherwise have become available. During that time, annual sales of Suboxone topped $1 billion.

The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern Division of Pennsylvania, accuses the companies of violating the federal Sherman Act and state laws. Counts include conspiracy to monopolize and illegal restraint of trade. In the suit, the attorneys general ask the court to stop the companies from engaging in anticompetitive conduct, to restore competition, and to order appropriate relief for consumers and the states, plus costs and fees.

The attorneys general of the following jurisdictions joined in the lawsuit: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, California, Colorado, District of Columbia, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington.

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Suboxone Redacted Complaint

Utah Attorney General's Office

Utah Joins Lawsuit Challenging DOE, DOJ “Dear Colleague” Letter on Bathroom & Locker Room Rules

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 25, 2018

SALT LAKE CITY  –   On May 13, 2016, the Obama Administration issued a “significant guidance” letter, also commonly known as a “Dear Colleague” letter.  After multiple efforts to obtain clarification from the Departments of Justice and Education failed to receive a response, a coalition of states sued. The lawsuit argues that the “Dear Colleague” letter has constitutional and statutory flaws, including improper rulemaking and failure to provide clear notice, among others, and if the Administration is using the Dear Colleague as new law, then it is legally deficient. 

On joining the lawsuit, Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes issued the following statement:

Every child is an individual.  The recent “Dear Colleague” letter from the US Department of Justice and Department of Education attempts to apply a single solution to all individuals without regard for the input of parents, schools, and community leaders. The federal government’s ‘one size fits all’ mandate, disconnected from the needs of Utah schools, disrespects individuals and ignores the law.

As such, Utah has joined an action with states across the country to clarify issues raised by the DOJ and DOE and to prevent the federal government from infringing on the role of states, local school districts or Congress.  Multiple states in good faith sought clarification from the DOJ and DOE, but the silence from the federal government has resulted in an environment of confusion for educators and administrators. The lawsuit will identify whether states and local school boards remain free to find solutions on a case-by-case basis, suited to the needs of individual families.

This case is not really about bathrooms, but about executive branch overreach.  If the “Dear Colleague” letter was intended to mandate a new interpretation of the law, the lawsuit challenges that adaptation as legally improper.  When a presidential administration wishes to change the law, it must do so appropriately. This Administration could have worked with Congress. It could have challenged the constitutionality of a state or local board policy. Or it could have taken proper steps under the Administrative Procedures Act to provide notice and solicit comment from the public, including states, school boards and families.  Process has a purpose.

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