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Idaho Taxpayers Get to Pay High-Priced Lawyers to Defend Taking Away Their Initiative Rights

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Photo by John Guccione www.advergroup.com on Pexels.com

A stunning bit of reporting from Betsy Russell in the Idaho Press illustrates the asymmetric nature of the War on Drugs. The legislature gets paid by us Idaho taxpayers to write a bill, SB 1110, that virtually eliminates our right to propose initiatives and referenda.

In response, the people (in the form of Reclaim Idaho and the Committee to Protect and Defend the Idaho Constitution), then have to raise the money to sue the state of Idaho for infringing on our constitutional rights.

The State of Idaho gets to defend itself against the lawsuit through the Office of Attorney General, also paid for by taxpayers’ dollars. That we’re on the hook for attorney rates that range from $57.88 to $88.00 per hour to defend a law that takes away our rights is one thing to accept.

But what if on top of that, we had to pay another set of private attorneys $470 per hour to defend the same case?

At the request of legislative leaders, the Idaho Supreme Court has agreed to allow the Legislature to intervene as a party in two lawsuits challenging a restrictive new voter initiative law, which means the taxpayers will pay for two separate legal teams to defend the same law in each case.

The state is represented by the Idaho Attorney General’s office, which is defending the newly signed law, SB 1110. Now, the Legislature also is represented by its private attorneys, led by William G. Myers III of the firm Holland & Hart.

State lawmakers this year approved an additional $4 million in taxpayer funding for the Legislative Legal Defense Fund, which is split between the House and Senate and in which the House portion this year had dropped to a zero balance. Myers has been representing the Legislature in numerous matters; according to public records obtained by the Idaho Press, the Legislature has been paying him an hourly rate of $470.

Must be nice to be able to use the people’s own money to take rights from the people, who then have to spend more money to sue for their rights, then you can use more of their money to defend taking their rights and then use much more of their money to defend taking their rights.

This is why we reject every prohibitionist who wails about how much money we raise in state legalization campaigns, complaining that their anti-marijuana campaigns get outspent. They always forget about the limitless resources the state has to enforce prohibition and pass laws.

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