Gallivan v. Walker

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Gallivan v. Walker is a court case decided by the Utah Supreme Court in 2002. The plaintiffs were John Gallivan, Michael Gallivan, Frank Pignanelli, Phyllis Sorenson, Susan M. Kuziak, and Linda Sue Dickey. The defendant was Olene Walker, in her official capacity as Utah's Lieutenant Governor.

Utah's high court, in their ruling, overturned part of the laws governing the initiative process in Utah--the part that mandated that signatures of 10% of voters be gathered in 20 of Utah's 25 counties. Notable, the majority decision said that the initiative right is a "fundamental right implicit in a free society."

What the plaintiffs asked the court to do was:

  • Declare that Utah's multi-county signature requirement for placing an initiative on the ballot is unconstitutional;
  • Declare that their initiative petition was sufficient under Utah Code section 20A-7-207(2); and
  • Require Lieutenant Governor Olene Walker to accept and file the petition and to place the initiative on the 2002 general election ballot.


The initiative at issue was the 2002 Radioactive Waste Initiative. After its supporters filed over 130,000 signatures on June 3, 2002, opponents of the initiative waged an effort to convince petition signers from sparsely populated rural counties to remove their signatures from the petition. This effort was so successful that nearly 3,000 people from rural counties asked to have their thegnatures removed, with the result that the initiative no longer met the multi-county signature requirement. After the signatures were removed, the sponsors satisfied the multi-county signature requirement in only 14 of Utah's 29 counties, 6 counties short of the required 20.

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