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First take/defense fund

The name always sounded vainglorious – the Idaho “constitutional defense fund” – and its purpose a little iffy, since the state does already have an attorney general’s office. (A pretty good one, too.) Still, you could sort of see the point of wanting to have some money set aside if state legislators wanted to defend what they do.

But the wisdom of having such a fund surely is linked to the wisdom used in tapping it. A new article by the Associated Press (disclosure: I’m quoted in it) looks into just that. And, it notes, since the first case in which the fund was used (over a nuclear waste agreement in 1996) “The next nine cases have all been losers for the state, including three cases defending abortion laws, two lawsuits involving gay rights and two lawsuits over the steps required to get initiatives on the ballot.”

And by and large, the legislature was warned amply well in advance that these cases were not likely to succeed.

Legislators looking to cut budgets in the 2017 session might start with this one, unless they can figure out how to more wisely spend the money in the years to come. – rs

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