Idaho Pays Out $800,000+ After Losing Lawsuits

Aug 10, 2015

Credit Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho had to dip into its bank account Monday to pay for three lawsuits the state has recently lost. The price tag is more than $800,000 dollars.

Idaho lost its fight to ban gay marriage, had an abortion law overturned and failed constitutional muster on a no-camping rule in the Occupy Boise case. Each one of those losses comes with a bill for attorneys’ fees for the winning side. Lawmakers agreed Monday to pay the bills in all three cases.

Idaho Governor Butch Otter defended the cost of the lawsuits.

“I can tell you that in every case we were either defending statutes or our constitution,” Otter said.

The payouts include more than $470,000 to the winning side in the case in which a north Idaho woman faced criminal charges for having a chemically-induced abortion at home. More than $135,000 goes to lawyers for Occupy Boise, the group that built a tent city on Idaho’s Capitol Mall. The protest group sued when the state enacted new camping rules to evict the tents, saying a no-camping statute was unconstitutional. And more than $220,000 in attorney’s fees in Idaho’s losing fight against gay marriage. Idaho’s laws banning gay marriage were struck down last year. That’s on top of $401,000 Idaho has already had to pay the plaintiff’s attorneys in that case.

Otter says it’s all part of the democratic process.

“That’s why the third branch of government is there, to decide what is constitutional and what is not, and in these cases they’ve decided our law or our statute or our constitution was unconstitutional,” Otter said.

The money comes from Idaho’s Constitutional Defense Fund, which currently stands at $1.2 million dollars. Otter warned lawmakers Monday he would ask for more money to be put into the fund next year.

Find Samantha Wright on Twitter @samwrightradio

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