Boise City continued its losing streak in the Supreme Court today when the high court ruled the Christians wishing to keep the Ten Commandments monument in Julia Davis park have the right to let voters decide the issue.
Keep The Commandments Coalition gathered more than 10,000 petition signatures demanding that city councilors put the question of keeping or removing a monument with the commandments before the voters. The council removed the monument and refused to honor the will of the petitioners–or the voters, calling their action “administrative” and not legislative.
The Supremes disagreed and reversed the judgement of Fourth District Judge Ronald J. Wilper. Only Jusitce Linda Copple Trout dissented. In a nutshell, the court said the petition process is legal, the group had enough signatures, and the people have the right to decide the issue.
Only after the voters APPROVE the issue would it be “ripe” for review by the court, but they refused to interrupt the initiative process. If the voters deny placement of the tablet, it is a dead issue. The legal question is NOT about the commandments– it is about allowing citizens the right to petition and vote.
This action is typical of a pattern established in recent years by local governments in general and Boise City in particular. The city attempts to find reasons to subvert the will of the people by using “judicial confirmation” for long term debt and lost two cases to the GUARDIAN editor who only wants the people to have a voice–regardless of the issue. It looks like the Supremes agree with the people more often than local governments of late.
Justice Gerald Shroeder authored the opinion which said in part, “The initiative process is a mandate, significant enough to be embodied in the Idaho Constitution, that enables voters to address issues of concern. Sometimes it compels authorities to listen when nothing else will….Just as the Court would not interrupt the legislature in the consideration of a bill prior to enactment, the Court will not interrupt the consideration of a properly qualified initiative. The petition qualifies for the ballot for consideration by the voters.”
For the record, we believe the Boise Council was probably correct in removing the biblical tablet from a city park, but they were totally out of line denying the measure to be placed on the ballot. This self serving legal advice is proving costly to taxpayers who have to foot the bills.
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