Idaho lawmakers intervene in lawsuit against abortion ban

Apr 20, 2022, 8:02 PM | Updated: Jun 13, 2022, 3:35 pm
A sign hangs in the offices of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America(Photo by Mario Tama/Get...
A sign hangs in the offices of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America(Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — The Idaho Supreme Court has allowed state lawmakers to intervene in a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of a law they passed earlier this year that would ban abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy.

The court on Monday without comment approved a request by Republican House Speaker Scott Bedke, Republican Senate President Pro-Tem Chuck Winder and the Legislature to take part in the case.

The law is modeled after a Texas law enforced through lawsuits to avoid constitutional court challenges. The law had been scheduled to take effect Friday but was temporarily blocked by the court following a lawsuit by a regional Planned Parenthood organization, which called the law an “unprecedented power grab by the Idaho Legislature.”

The father, grandparents, siblings, aunts and uncles of a “preborn child” could each sue an abortion provider for a minimum of $20,000 in damages within four years after the abortion, according to the law. Rapists can’t file a lawsuit under the law, but a rapist’s relatives could.

The lawsuit was filed late last month by Planned Parenthood Great Northwest, Hawaii, Alaska, Indiana, Kentucky, which operates 40 health centers across six states. Planned Parenthood contends, among other arguments, that the law is unconstitutional because it violates the Idaho Constitution requiring separation of powers by eliminating the executive branch’s “authority and duty to ensure that the laws are faithfully executed.”

The lawmakers’ request to intervene — with their own private attorneys using taxpayer dollars — noted that an analysis by the Idaho attorney general’s office concluded that a court might find the then-proposed law “an unconstitutional delegation of the Governor’s enforcement power to private citizens and violate the separation of powers under the Idaho Constitution.”

Lawmakers also said that when Republican Gov. Brad Little signed the bill, which had passed the House and Senate with veto-proof majorities, he inserted himself into the legal debate by writing in his transmittal letter that he feared the law’s “novel civil enforcement mechanism will in short order be proven both unconstitutional and unwise.”

Because of the analysis by the attorney general’s office, and because the law put the Legislature in conflict with the executive branch, the Legislature should be allowed to defend the law, lawmakers argued.

Planned Parenthood’s arguments challenging the constitutionality of the abortion law “directly implicate the Legislature’s authority and, further, place the Legislature in conflict with the Executive Branch and with the prior statements of the Idaho Attorney General’s office,” lawmakers wrote. “Consequently, the Legislature has its own uniquely situated interests in this proceeding and, therefore, seeks to protect those interests through intervention.”

When the state is sued over its laws, it often falls to the Idaho attorney general’s office to defend the state’s views, even in cases where the attorney general’s office previously warned lawmakers that the legislation would likely be found unconstitutional. But in some cases, the Legislature has hired private attorneys to represent lawmakers’ interests in court.

The state has been sued several times in recent history after lawmakers passed laws that were found to be unconstitutional. Idaho has been on the losing end of lawsuits over abortion restrictions, laws targeting transgender residents and laws attempting to restrict resident-led voter initiatives, to name a few, ultimately costing taxpayers millions of dollars in legal fees.

In the abortion case, lawmakers said they are prepared to comply with the court’s timelines, and their request to intervene wouldn’t cause a delay.

The court earlier this month without comment rejected a request by the Roman Catholic Church in Idaho to intervene in the lawsuit.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

National News

A person pumps gas at a Shell gas station on April 01, 2022, in Houston, Texas. The Biden administr...
Alicia Wallace and Chris Isidore, CNN

Oil drops below $100 a barrel for first time since early May

For the first time in nearly two months, crude oil prices have fallen below $100 a barrel, reflecting investors' growing concerns of a US recession.
17 hours ago
CAPSTONE revealed in lunar Sunrise...
The Associated Press

NASA: Contact lost with spacecraft on way to test moon orbit

NASA said Tuesday it has lost contact with a $32.7 million spacecraft headed to the moon to test out a lopsided lunar orbit, but agency engineers are hopeful they can fix the problem.
17 hours ago
PHOENIX, AZ - NOVEMBER 08:  A Maricopa County Elections Department sign directs voters to a polling...
Holmes Lybrand

Justice Department sues Arizona over new election law requiring proof of citizenship

The Justice Department sued the state of Arizona Tuesday to block a law that would require proof of citizenship to register to vote in the state.
17 hours ago
In this handout provided by Ramsey County Sheriff's Office, former Minneapolis police officer Derek...
STEVE KARNOWSKI, Associated Press

Chauvin faces sentencing on federal charges in Floyd killing

A federal judge will this week sentence former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin for federal civil rights violations in the killing of George Floyd.
17 hours ago
U.S. President Joe Biden awards the Medal of Honor to Army Specialist 5 Dwight W. Birdwell during a...

Biden awards Medal of Honor to 4 for Vietnam War heroism

President Joe Biden has bestowed the nation’s highest military honor to four Army soldiers for heroism that he says went above and beyond the call of duty during the Vietnam War.
17 hours ago
Protesters from "Just Stop Oil" climate protest group glue their hands to the frame of a copy of Le...
Associated Press

UK climate protesters glue themselves to gallery paintings

Climate change protesters targeted a copy of Leonardo da Vinci's “The Last Supper” at London's Royal Academy of Arts Tuesday, gluing themselves to the painting's frame and spray-painting “No New Oil” next to it.
17 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

hand holding 3d rendering mobile connect with security camera for security solutions...
Les Olson

Wondering what security solutions are right for you? Find out more about how to protect your surroundings

Physical security helps everyone. Keep your employees, clients, and customers safe with security solutions that protect your workplace.
Many rattan pendant lights, hay hang from the ceiling.Traditional and simple lighting....
Lighting Design

The Best Ways to Style Rattan Pendant Lighting in Your Home

Rattan pendant lights create a rustic and breezy feel, and are an easy way to incorporate this hot trend into your home decor.
Earth day 2022...

How Are You Celebrating Earth Day 2022? | 4 Simple Ways to Celebrate Earth Day and Protect the Environment

Earth Day is a great time to reflect on how we can be more environmentally conscious. Here are some tips for celebrating Earth Day.
Get Money Online...

More Ways to Get Money Online Right Now in Your Spare Time

Here are 4 easy ways that you can get more money online if you have some free time and want to make a little extra on the side.
Lighting trends 2022...

Lighting Trends 2022 | 5 Beautiful Home Lighting Trends You Can Expect to See this Year and Beyond

This is where you can see the latest lighting trends for 2022 straight from the Lightovation Show at the Dallas World Trade Center.
What Can't You Throw Away in the Trash...

What Can’t You Throw Away in the Trash? | 5 Things You Shouldn’t Throw in to Your Trash Can

What can't you throw away in the trash? Believe it or not, there are actually many items that shouldn't be thrown straight into the trash.
Idaho lawmakers intervene in lawsuit against abortion ban