9B.News 2022 Primary Voter's Guide
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As attorney general, I have taken an oath to uphold the United States and Idaho Constitutions and to perform the duties of my office. Idaho Code § 59-401. The Idaho Constitution requires me to perform the duties “prescribed by this Constitution and as may be prescribed by law.” Idaho Constitution Art. IV, Section 1. The Constitutional duties assigned to the Attorney General are to be a member of the State Board of Land Commissioners, Idaho Constitution Article IX, Section 7, and the Board of Examiners.
Idaho Constitution Art. IV, Section 18. Duties “prescribed by law” are those duties assigned to me by laws passed by the legislature or citizen’s initiative. The legislature has “prescribed by law” a number of duties, primarily found in Idaho Title 67, Chapter 14.
I will mention two code sections specifically. First, “it is the duty of the attorney general ... to perform all legal services for the state and to represent the state and all departments, agencies, offices, officers, boards, commissions institutions and other state entities ... and to advise all departments, agencies, offices, officers, boards, commissions, institutions and other state entities in all matters involving questions of law.” Idaho Code § 67-1401 (1) and (2).
Second, “the governor” ... “may upon request, utilize the attorney general’s legal services.” Idaho Code § 67-1406(1). That means that if the governor requests my services, I am required to be the attorney for the governor. As his attorney, I cannot sue the governor nor hold a press conference and say my client is violating the law.
That is what some candidates in this race have said. However, suing my own client would be a violation of the law my duty as an attorney and my oath of office.
Others in this race have said that they are going to be a “conservative” attorney general and will represent “conservatives.”
The only problem with that approach is that the attorney general does not represent conservatives, liberals, moderates, Democrats, Republicans or Libertarians or any other political group. The attorney general represents the state and is required to uphold the rule of law.
In addition, the attorney general represents the people collectively, not individually. I don’t represent people in divorces or contract disputes or property claims. Some complain that I choose to “represent the bureaucracy.” That is not correct. Instead, I choose to obey the law. The law requires me to represent the state. Either we believe in the rule of Law, or we don’t.
I believe in the rule of law.
I often describe my job as looking at a traffic signal. Let’s assume the traffic light is red and you and I are in a car. You ask me, what color is the light? I can give one of two answers. Either I can tell you the truth and say, “the light is red” or I can lie and say, “the light is green.” If I tell the truth and say the light is red some get angry, because they don’t like the answer and accuse me of simply being a red-light lover. However, if I am willing to lie say the light is green, it doesn’t change the color of the light. It is still red. So, when they drive through the intersection they are at grave risk.
The best thing I can do is tell the truth, even if that is not what someone wants to hear.
Incidentally, sometimes the light is red and I must say you are required to stop. Other times, I must say the light is yellow, therefore, proceed with caution. Sometimes I must say the light is green, you are authorized to act.
In each of those instances it does not mean that I either agree or disagree with my client’s choices to act or not act. Separation of powers and the concept of limited government means that I do not make their policy choices for them. I simply advise them about the color of the light and sometimes my clients ignore my advice but I am still required to represent them.
Some in this race will tell you that the constitutional duty of the attorney general is to represent the people against the state government. That is not true. Nowhere does the Idaho Constitution say the attorney general’s duty is to represent the people against the state. Article 1 of the Idaho Constitution declares personal rights of Idaho’s citizens, not collective rights. I represent the citizens collectively by respecting and honoring these rights and as I advise my statutory clients.
Texas v. Pennsylvania
There were many people who failed to understand the real nature of Texas v. Pennsylvania. They thought this was a push back on federal overreach and a challenge to the propriety of the 2020 presidential election.
It was not a lawsuit against the federal government nor was it about the integrity of the 2020 election. Instead, it was a lawsuit challenging the sovereignty of a sister state.
Texas, a sovereign state, sued Pennsylvania, a sovereign state, for Pennsylvania’s exercise of its sovereign power over Pennsylvania’s own election. Texas made similar claims against the sovereignty of Georgia, Wisconsin and Michigan.
Think about that for a moment. If Texas can sue Pennsylvania for its exercise of its sovereign power, then California can sue Idaho when we exercise our sovereign power. Do you think California or Washington should control Idaho? I don’t.
That’s why I didn’t join Texas. Nearly alone, I stood up for your sovereignty. All nine members of the United States Supreme Court, including the three appointed by President Trump, said I was right. Texas did not have standing to sue Pennsylvania over Pennsylvania’s exercise of its sovereign power over its own election.
California would love to sue us over exercising our sovereign power concerning water, abortion, the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act and a myriad of other things. The Governor of Washington would love to sue us over COVID-19. He has already said that Idaho is filling Washington hospitals with COVID-19 patients. Many people refuse to acknowledge the terrible precedent the Texas case would have set had the Supreme Court allowed Texas to proceed.
Without giving warning to any other state, Texas filed its case on December 7, 2021, and the case was placed on the Court docket on December 8, 2021. Only three days later on December 11, 2021, the Court denied Texas’ claim in six short sentences. You can read it here.
It is a professional embarrassment for Texas to have been rejected by the Court so quickly and soundly. It was not a difficult legal question. However, the surrounding politics proved difficult for some people. Many people rushed to judgement without understanding what the issue really was.
My opponents and one of the gubernatorial candidates and one of the Secretary of State candidates insist that Idaho should have joined the case. One of them says that Idaho should have joined because “65-percent of Idahoans” thought we should join. That is precisely the style of thinking of some legislators.
Unfortunately, they are unwilling to acknowledge the difference between policy and law.
In a policy forum such as the legislature, some legislators count noses and vote in whatever direction they are blown by the prevailing political winds. In the courtroom, which is a legal (not policy forum) however, decisions are made differently. It doesn’t matter how many people believe one thing or how many believe something else. On the U.S. Supreme Court, the only votes that count are the votes of the nine justices and all nine justices said I was right and rejected the claims made by Texas.
It is not appropriate to file lawsuits for “moral support” or to show “solidarity” as has been alleged by some. It is a lawsuit.
Joining a lawsuit is not a policy choice. It is a function of the law.
Nearly alone, I defended Idaho’s sovereignty. For me, protecting that sovereignty is not just a political slogan to get some votes. It is something I have done at great personal and political cost. On my website at, lawrencewasden.com, I have much greater detail on this issue.
The law is that Texas could not sue Pennsylvania. Either we believe in the rule of law or we don’t. I believe in the rule of law.
Biden Vaccine Mandates
President Biden issued two executive orders and one directive concerning vaccine mandates and an additional mandate from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services. This resulted in our filing three lawsuits against the vaccine mandates.
A. The Federal Employees Executive Order
Executive Order 14043, issued on September 9, 2021, requires all federal employees to be vaccinated. Idaho does not have standing to bring an action against the federal government for this order. The state does not have a legally protectable interest in the employment requirements of federal employees and we, therefore, did not file a lawsuit. No state has filed such a lawsuit, but federal employees have brought their own lawsuit on the matter.
B. The Federal Contractors Lawsuit
Executive Order 14042, issued on September 9, 2021, requires all employees of federal contractors to be vaccinated. We brought a suit against the federal government because state universities are federal contractors but also part of state government. On that basis, we believe we have standing to bring the action against the federal government. We are continuing to pursue this case.
C. The OSHA Emergency Temporary Standard and lawsuit
On September 9, 2021, President Biden issued a directive to the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) to create an Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) requiring all employers with 100 or more employees to require vaccinations. The ETS (which is essentially an emergency regulation) was issued by OSHA on November 5, 2021.
We filed a lawsuit against OSHA, among other things, because in our view the ETS was beyond the scope of the legal authority of OSHA. That case went before the U.S. Supreme Court on the issue of whether a stay of the ETS was appropriate. The Court said, “Applicants now seek emergency relief from this Court, arguing that OSHA’s mandate exceeds its statutory authority and is otherwise unlawful. Agreeing that applicants are likely to prevail, we grant their applications and stay the rule.”
In staying the rule, the Court gave a very strong indication that issuing the ETS was beyond the legal authority of OSHA. As a result, the Governor and I worked with our counterparts in other states and prevailed upon OSHA to withdraw the rule. In other words, the OSHA rule no longer exists.
D. The CMS mandate and subsequent lawsuit.
We also filed a lawsuit against the vaccine mandate issued by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). That case also went to the United States Supreme Court on the issue of whether a stay should remain in place. In this case, the Court held that issuing the vaccine mandate was within the authority of CMS and, therefore, the Court denied a stay in the matter. We are continuing to litigate this case.
The letter to OSHA
At the outset of the vaccine mandates, a number of Republican attorneys general sent a letter to the Biden Administration indicating that they were preparing to litigate the issue of the OSHA Emergency Temporary Standard. I did not join their letter because I sent my own litigation letter, which I signed and was also signed by Governor Little, Idaho Senate Pro Tem Chuck Winder and Idaho House Speaker Scott Bedke. Idaho was speaking with one voice.
Some of the things I have accomplished.
I represent the people collectively and during last year alone I:
• Returned $44 million to the state from the $26.6 million budget provided by the legislature. I returned $1.66 each dollar appropriated.
• Received 1,500 cybertips, opened 815 investigations and arrested 58 people using the internet to abuse Idaho children.
• Obtained over $7 million in restitution for defrauded Idaho consumers.
• Obtained $120 million for Idaho governments in three opioid settlements.
• Obtained $22 million for the Idaho Millennium fund in litigation over the 1998 Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement.
I believe in the rule of law. I ask for your vote.
Mike Weland, Publisher
6931 Main St.
P.O. Box 1625
Bonners Ferry, ID 83805
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