January 30, 2012 in Idaho

Idaho GOPers don’t want Obama appointing new fed judge

By The Spokesman-Review

BOISE - The Idaho House has passed HJM 4, a non-binding memorial calling on Congress to add a third federal judge in Idaho, but only by a 47-21 vote and after objections from House Republicans to allowing a Democratic president to appoint another federal judge.

Idaho’s had just two federal district judges since 1954, said the measure’s sponsor, Rep. Grant Burgoyne, D-Boise, and the federal caseload has increased so dramatically that there are now big delays in processing civil cases, since criminal cases are given priority.

As a result, some Idaho cases are even being taken to other jurisdictions, said Burgoyne, an attorney. “Micron Technology recently found itself in Texas with respect to an intellectual property case, which it fortunately won,” he said.

Burgoyne said it’s his opinion, and that of the state’s business community and Idaho’s bar association, “that Idaho juries and Idaho judges should be deciding case affecting Idaho people.” Plus, he said, other states including Alaska, Montana, Wyoming and South Dakota already have three federal judges and have smaller populations than Idaho.

Rep. Linden Bateman, R-Idaho Falls, told the House he believes the “federal judiciary has served as a handmaiden” to overstepping the U.S. Constitution. He said he’d be willing to support the memorial, but only after a new president is elected and replaces Democratic President Barack Obama.

“I hardly think he would appoint a new federal judge who would reflect the values of the citizens of Idaho,” Bateman declared. “I’ll be glad to support this memorial if we get a new president.”

House Minority Leader John Rusche, D-Lewiston, objected, and Speaker Lawerence Denney asked Bateman to keep his remarks from getting personal.

Burgoyne told the House, “I bring this memorial with absolutely no partisan motive. We have the very finest of judges serving as our federal district judges and as our federal magistrates here in the state of Idaho, they are Idahoans, they have been appointed by presidents of both parties. I cannot distinguish between them when it comes to who appointed them, and I doubt that anybody else can.”

Rep. JoAn Wood, R-Rigby, requested a roll-call vote, which is unusual for non-binding memorials, which usually pass on voice votes. Twenty-one House Republicans - more than a third of the 57 Republicans in the Idaho House - voted against the measure, though it still passed.

Among the 18 North Idaho lawmakers in districts 1 through 6, five voted against the memorial: Reps. Vito Barbieri, R-Dalton Gardens; Phil Hart, R-Athol; Dick Harwood, R-St. Maries; Bob Nonini, R-Coeur d’Alene; and Kathy Sims, R-Coeur d’Alene.

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