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House Bill 418 — Attorney general, vaccines

House Bill 418 — Attorney general, vaccines

Parrish Miller
November 16, 2021

Bill Description: H418 would prohibit the state of Idaho from retaining outside counsel to defend the constitutional rights of Idahoans with respect to unconstitutional vaccine mandates. 

Rating: -1

Analyst Note: H418 is one of several pieces of legislation introduced during the November meeting of the 2021 session to address the issue of vaccine mandates in Idaho. 

Does it violate the spirit or the letter of either the U.S. Constitution or the Idaho Constitution? Examples include restrictions on speech, public assembly, the press, privacy, private property, or firearms. Conversely, does it restore or uphold the protections guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution or the Idaho Constitution?

H414 amends Section 67-1406, Idaho Code, to change Idaho law, which currently allows the legislative and judicial branches of government and the governor to employ attorneys other than those under the supervision of the attorney general. Under this change, only the attorney general would have authority to "defend the state in any litigation over legislation enacted by the Idaho legislature regarding federal policy on immunizations..." 

This language is problematic because it would effectively strip the legislative branch of its independence, forcing it to rely on a single member of the executive branch to defend its legislative action. This represents a significant compromise of the constitutionally guaranteed division of powers.

An additional problem is that if the attorney general is, for some reason, not inclined to defend the individual rights of Idahoans, the other branches and offices of government should not be prevented from interceding on the people's behalf. The defense of individual liberty is the most fundamental duty of all government.


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