Update from 8/24/21 at 8:40 a.m.: House Minority Leader Ilana Rubel responded to our request for comment by sending Idaho Dispatch the following:
I am very pleased that the Idaho Supreme Court displayed appropriate commitment to upholding citizens’ constitutional ballot initiative rights. I only wish our GOP colleagues had been similarly committed to protecting those rights during session. This ruling should never have been necessary because SB1110 should never have passed. SB1110 would have for all practical purposes stripped away fundamental citizen rights that are clearly set forth in our Constitution, and I’m proud that every member of my caucus opposed this terrible bill from the outset.
Original story below.
Earlier this year, the Idaho legislature passed Senate Bill 1110, changing the ballot initiative process.
The new law changed the requirements for initiatives on the number of legislative districts needed to put a ballot initiative on the general election ballot. The requirements under SB 1110 stated that signatures had to be gathered from all 35 legislative districts instead of 18.
Reclaim Idaho filed a lawsuit against the new law, and today the Idaho Supreme Court unanimously agreed with Reclaim Idaho that the new law was unconstitutional.
In addition, the ISC re-implemented the old version of the law so that signatures only need to be gathered from 18 legislative districts, with at least 6% of registered voters from the last general election needing to sign the initiative.
Reclaim Idaho is working on one ballot initiative regarding education. Several other ballot initiatives are also underway regarding various forms of marijuana legalization. All of these initiatives can now gather signatures under the old law, which has not been reinstated.
The ISC staff released a document titled “Summary Statement,” giving a brief overview of the court’s opinion on the issue. Here is part of what the Summary Statement said:
Addressing the merits, the Idaho Supreme Court unanimously concluded that section 34-1805(2) violates Article III, Section 1 of the Idaho Cosntitution. A majority of the Court held that the initiative/referendum power is a fundamental right, reserved to the people of Idaho, to which strict scrutiny applies. Applying strict scrutiny, the majority ruled that the SOS and the Legislature failed to present a compelling state interest for limiting that right.
Further, even if there were a compelling state interest, the majority concluded that the Legislature’s solution-requiring a threshold amount of signatures from every legislative district-was not a narrowly tailored one. All five justices agreed that big giving “every legislative district veto power over qualifying initiatives and referenda for the ballot,” the ultimate effect of SB 1110 would be to prevent a perceived, yet unsubstantiated fear of the ‘tyranny of the majority,’ by replacing it with an actual ” ‘tyranny of the minority.'”
Accordingly, the Court restored the previous version of section 34-1805, which requires signatures from 6% of the qualified electors at the time of the last general election in each of at least 18 legislative districts, as well as signatures equal to or greater than 6% of the qualified electors in the state at the time of the last general election.
Idaho Dispatch reached out to Luke Mayville, the Co-Founder of Reclaim Idaho, for a comment. Mayville has not responded to our request at this time but did post the following statement on Twitter:
Today the Idaho Supreme Court added a new chapter to our state’s proud history of direct democracy. By restoring the initiative process, the court fulfilled its obligation to protect the democratic rights of every Idaho Citizen. WE WON! #idpol
Idaho Dispatch reached out to Senator Steve Vick (R-Dalton Gardens) and Rep. Jim Addis (R-Coeur d’Alene) for a comment on the issue. Vick has not returned our request for comment, and Addis said he needs to review the ISC’s statement before commenting.
Idaho Dispatch also reached out to Rep. Ilana Rubel (D-Boise) and Sen. Michelle Stennett. Both serve as Democrat Minority leaders in their respective chambers. We also reached out to Rep. Brooke Green (D-Boise) for comment, but she has not responded as of this writing.
While Rubel did not return our specific request for comment, she did post the following tweet on Twitter:
YES! YES! YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!! The people win!
Rep. Chris Mathias (D-Boise) had this to say on his Twitter account:
What does this decision mean? It means that those of us who voted AGAINST this bill voted to protect Idaho’s Constitution. You’re welcome. #idleg #idpol
Idaho Dispatch also reached out to several other Republican lawmakers who voted for the measure to see if they had a response.
Rep. Tammy Nichols (R-Middleton) sent Idaho Dispatch the following message:
I am disappointed but not surprised by the ruling with the special interest groups involved. Limiting the rural voices of Idaho is not in the best interest of our state, nor does it reflect the desires of all Idahoans.
Additionally, Sen. Christy Zito (R-Hammett) had this to say about the ISC’s opinion:
Ballot initiatives are mob rule with legal protections. The law passed by the Idaho legislature to strengthen the ballot initiative process was crucial to making it more equitable to smaller populated legislative districts. It was a step in the right direction to preserve true liberty in our great state.
The ballot intiative process is used by liberals to gain ground in areas that they know the legislature will not support, especially in red states. But even in blue states, the liberals are going around their representative government. For example, an Oregon ballot intiative proposed for 2022 would effectively criminalize the farming of food animals in the state by classifying their slaughter as aggravated abuse and redefining articial insemination and castration as sexual assault.
Also in Oregon, gun control is being proposed through another ballot intiative. The initiative imposes a new, additional permit system in order to purchase a firearm, and prhohibits possession or use a magazines that hold more than 10 rounds.
Additionally, another ballot intiative prohibits manufacturing, possessing, and transferring many semiautomatic firearms. The Oregon Hunter’s Assocation says this about IP18, ‘It also purports to prohibit the use of covered firearms for practice and target shooting expressly permitted under federal law on federal public lands such as the national forests and BLM lands, wiich comprise almost 50 percent of Oregon’s land. The Draft Ballot Title does not inform voters of this radical, indeed unprecedented effet of IP18.’
Finally, Rep. Chad Christensen (R-Ammon) told Idaho Dispatch:
The Idaho Supreme Court has overstepped it’s authority. The legislature can legally set the parameters of the ballot initiative process, as long as it is still allowed per the Idaho Constitution. We are experiencing a liberal infestation in all branches and levels of government in our state.
What do you think of the Idaho Supreme Court’s opinion? Do you agree or disagree with it?
Let us know in the comments below.
Tags: Idaho Supreme Court, Reclaim Idaho, Steve Vick