BOISE – Idaho’s House of Representatives agreed Monday to ask Congress for a long-needed third federal judge, but only after some Republican members said they wouldn’t support asking a Democratic president to make that appointment.
The Idaho House passed a nonbinding memorial by a 47-21 vote.
Idaho has had just two federal district judges since 1954, said the measure’s sponsor, state 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 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 other states including Alaska, Montana, Wyoming and South Dakota already have three federal judges and have smaller populations than Idaho.
State Rep. Linden Bateman, R-Idaho Falls, said he would “be glad to support this memorial if we get a new president.”
But he told House members he believes the “federal judiciary has served as a handmaiden” to overstepping the U.S. Constitution.
“I hardly think he (President Barack Obama) would appoint a new federal judge who would reflect the values of the citizens of Idaho,” Bateman said.
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.”