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Eye On Boise

AG’s opinion: Bible-in-schools bill ‘specifically prohibited’ by Idaho Constitution

Sen. Sheryl Nuxoll’s Bible-in-schools bill, which already has passed the Senate and is up for a vote in House committee this morning, violates the Idaho Constitution and likely would be overturned in court, as it’s “specifically prohibited” by Article IX, Section 6 of the Idaho Constitution, according to a Feb. 9 Idaho Attorney General’s opinion.

Nuxoll has dismissed the Attorney General’s analysis as just an opinion, but if the bill were to become law and be challenged in court, it’s the Attorney General’s office who would have to defend it.

Since the opinion was issued, the bill, SB 1342, has been amended. Where it previously said, “USE OF THE BIBLE IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS. The Bible is expressly permitted to be used in Idaho public schools for reference purposes,” the amended bill now says, “USE OF THE BIBLE IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS. The use of religious texts, including the Bible, is expressly permitted to be used in Idaho public schools for reference purposes.”

You can read the opinion here, which also includes a 2009 Idaho Attorney General’s opinion on the same topic provided to the Idaho Public Charter School Commission. The opinion concluded that while the bill doesn’t violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, it does violate the Idaho Constitution’s stricter standards on use of religious texts in public schools.

Idaho Education News reports that Nuxoll cited a differing opinion from attorney Christ Troupis, who testified in favor of the bill Wednesday in the Senate Education Committee. “We call out the Bible because it is the only one being attacked,” Troupis told the committee.

Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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