Idaho governor signs bill to shield lethal injection drug companies

Opposition groups say there’s ‘no question’ law will be challenged in court

By: - March 25, 2022 4:54 pm
scales of justice

A federal judge determined this month that the six-year-old lawsuit against Brigham Young University-Idaho, revolving around allegations of sexual impropriety, must move forward. (Getty Images)

Gov. Brad Little signed a bill late Wednesday afternoon granting confidentiality to suppliers and manufacturers of lethal injection drugs in Idaho. Opposition groups say it will likely be challenged in court.

House Bill 658 extends legal protection to any person or business responsible for compounding, synthesizing, testing, selling, transporting, manufacturing, storing or prescribing the chemicals or substances used for execution. The identity of a supplier is not admissible as evidence or discoverable in any court proceedings, and individuals are not subject to licensing board discipline for their involvement in carrying out the death penalty under the legislation.

The bill passed both chambers of the Idaho Legislature between Feb. 16 and March 18, with a 38-30 vote in the House of Representatives and 21-14 vote in the Senate. Neither vote was a veto-proof majority.

Proponents of the bill said if it didn’t pass this session, the death penalty would effectively end in Idaho, as drug manufacturers have stopped providing supply to states without a confidentiality law. Lethal injection is the only form of execution authorized in Idaho for prisoners sentenced to death.

Sen. Todd Lakey, R-Nampa, said on the Senate floor that opponents of the death penalty “name and shame” the companies in an attempt to shut them down. Legislators who voted against the bill cited concerns about transparency, even if they said they were not against the death penalty.

Deborah Czuba, supervising attorney with the Federal Defender Services of Idaho, said in a press release the bill shields critical information from the public and the courts.

“It was a bill that deserved careful study and consideration of both its ethical and legal ramifications. There is no question that it will be the subject of future legal challenges,” Czuba said.

Jeremy Woodson, spokesman for the American Civil Liberties Union of Idaho, said there was a lack of stakeholder input on the bill. Lauren Bramwell, policy strategist for the ACLU of Idaho, said the group had hoped to organize a meeting with the Federal Defender Services of Idaho and Little’s office on Thursday, but Little signed the bill too quickly for that to happen. 

“If nothing else, legislation like this is deserving of robust input from all stakeholders involved,” Woodson said. “Besides the legislation itself, there’s a lot to be said about the process here.”

Woodson said the ACLU of Idaho does not have plans for a legal challenge yet.


Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

Kelcie Moseley-Morris
Kelcie Moseley-Morris

Kelcie Moseley-Morris is an award-winning journalist who has covered many topics across Idaho since 2011. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Idaho and a master’s degree in public administration from Boise State University. Moseley-Morris started her journalism career at the Moscow-Pullman Daily News, followed by the Lewiston Tribune and the Idaho Press.