Writings and observations

Last of the Andrus justices

Linda Copple Trout

Linda Copple Trout

There was a point in the 90s when all the members of the Idaho Supreme Court were appointees of Democratic Governor Cecil Andrus. Of the other four, three were appointed by Republican governors and the other elected, unopposed, to the seat.

Now the last of them will be leaving the court. The Spokane Spokesman-Review‘s Betsy Russell reports today that Linda Copple Trout, who also is the only woman on the high court, will resign from the court effective in August, partly so that she won’t go through election to the seat, which would occur next year.

You can understand that. There were fierce elections in 2000 and 2002 over the judicial seats, in which Andrus appointees were targeted; Trout prevailed but another justice (Cathy Silak) did not. A quote from Trout: “The fear really is from soft money. It’s from third parties, which is something I never considered until it happened to her and then it happened in a big way to me. I truly thought I would run on my record and my merits and my opponent would as well, and people would judge as best they could on that basis. I never dreamed that I would see ‘Liberal Linda Trout’ on TV.”

The Idaho Supreme Court, back in the 90s and since, never has seemed especially liberal, or strikingly conservative for that matter. Through the years, there have been (as she noted) a lot of unanimous or near-unanimous votes, even on hot issues. Still, a certain kind of perspective may go missing when Trout leaves the bench this summer.

AHEAD Look for the prospect of a second supreme court justice being in effect picked from the group applying now for the Schroeder vacancy.

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