Gem State Roundup
Judge partially grants Idaho Legislature’s motion to intervene in DOJ abortion law case
A judge partially granted the Idaho Legislature’s motion to intervene in the U.S. Department of Justice lawsuit against the state of Idaho over its abortion trigger law, allowing the Legislature to submit a brief and present arguments at a hearing later this month. (Otto Kitsinger for the Idaho Capital Sun)
A judge partially granted the Idaho Legislature’s motion to intervene in the U.S. Department of Justice lawsuit against the state of Idaho over its abortion trigger law, allowing the Legislature to submit a brief and present arguments at a hearing later this month.
District Judge B. Lynn Winmill issued the decision on Saturday, two days after the Legislature filed a brief in Idaho’s District Court stating it should be a named party in the lawsuit because the Idaho Attorney General’s Office would not offer a “full, zealous, thorough-going defense” of the trigger law. The Legislature is already a named party in the three state lawsuits filed by Planned Parenthood challenging abortion laws and argued before the Idaho Supreme Court alongside the attorney general’s office earlier this month.
The attorney general’s office said the Legislature’s contention is not true and that it will offer a vigorous defense grounded in law and fact.
Winmill only allowed the Legislature to participate in the Aug. 22 hearing to determine if the law’s implementation will be paused based on the Department of Justice’s contention that the state’s ban on nearly all abortions — which will take effect Aug. 25 — is unconstitutional and violates the federal Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act. The Legislature’s attorneys said they intend to point to holes in the factual foundation of the Department of Justice’s case.
The judge said the Legislature failed to meet its burden of showing that the state would not adequately represent its interests in the lawsuit and denied intervention on the full case barring any future developments that are able to prove otherwise.
“… To allow a legislature the right to intervene in every federal case whenever it says it should be allowed to do so and without requiring the Legislature to meet even its minimal burden of showing it possesses a distinct interest or that its interest are inadequately represented would allow the state to turn into a nine-headed Hydra whenever it so choose,” Winmill wrote.
He said the criticism was especially puzzling given Gov. Brad Little’s unequivocal public support for the decision to overturn Roe v. Wade by the U.S. Supreme Court and his support for the abortion ban, and no stated opposition to the law has come from Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden.
“… Not a speck of evidence exists that the state and the Legislature’s interests diverge in any real and practical sense,” Winmill wrote.
A hearing on the injunction to pause the law’s implementation is scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m. Aug. 22 in Boise.
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