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House Bill 511 — Religious security teams, immunity

House Bill 511 — Religious security teams, immunity

Parrish Miller
February 12, 2024

Bill Description: House Bill 511 would provide immunity from civil damages to volunteer security personnel of a religious organization so long as their actions do not constitute gross negligence or wanton or reckless misconduct.

Rating: +1

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?

House Bill 511 would create Section 5-347, Idaho Code, to define terms and declare that "no action shall lie or be maintained for civil damages in any court of this state against any volunteer security personnel of a religious organization for providing safety, security, or protection services for the religious organization or against the religious organization for which such volunteer security personnel provided safety, security, or protection services.

The bill clarifies that the immunity "shall apply to and include safety, security, or protection provided by use of nonlethal or lethal force" but shall "not apply to or include acts or omissions proved to amount to gross negligence or wanton or reckless misconduct."

Both the U.S. Constitution and the Idaho Constitution recognize fundamental rights, including the free exercise of religion, the right of peaceful assembly, and the right to keep and bear arms. Idaho law also recognizes a presumptive right of self-defense and defense of another. It says: "No person in this state shall be placed in legal jeopardy of any kind whatsoever for protecting himself or his family by reasonable means necessary, or when coming to the aid of another whom he reasonably believes to be in imminent danger of or the victim of aggravated assault, robbery, rape, murder or other heinous crime."

House Bill 511 addresses circumstances involving the confluence of multiple fundamental rights in a way that should remove the threat of financially ruinous litigation dissuading individuals from exercising their rights.


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