Attorney General Lawrence Wasden issued the following statement in response to a claim from an Idaho advocacy group regarding the Office of the Attorney General’s defense of SB 1309. The “heartbeat” law was passed by the Idaho Legislature and signed into law by Governor Brad Little before being challenged in court by Planned Parenthood.
Idaho Family Policy Center President Blaine Conzatti made the false claim in a web post and email sent to the organization’s subscribers Monday. In the email, Conzatti writes the Idaho Supreme Court stayed the implementation of the new law on April 8 because “the Idaho Attorney General cut a deal with Planned Parenthood, in which both parties agreed to let the court temporarily block the law in exchange for slowing down court proceedings.”
Conzatti has since apologized to the office for the false representation.
“Mr. Conzatti’s apology for his false claim came during a meeting in which my attorneys discussed with him his intentions of having his organization join our defense of the bill through an amicus brief. This was a good faith effort on my part to work with an outside organization that shares a legal interest in this case similar to that of the state’s.
“Neither I, nor any representative of my office, made a deal with Planned Parenthood. Any suggestion to the contrary is categorically false.
“As the Attorney General, my statutorily-mandated role as the state’s chief legal officer includes defense of state laws when they’re challenged in court. Upon the filing of the suit, my office began a vigorous defense of the new law. That defense continues today.”
The bill was signed into law on March 23 and was set to take effect on April 22. Planned Parenthood challenged the legislation in the Idaho Supreme Court on March 30. At the same time, it also filed a motion to speed up the case’s timeline. The Supreme Court granted Planned Parenthood’s request to expedite the case’s briefing schedule less than a day after it was filed. In doing so, the court set a schedule that required the state to file its response to the lawsuit in just two weeks.
In response to the condensed timeline, the Office of the Attorney General filed a motion asking the Supreme Court to reconsider, and laid out arguments for why expediting such a complex case with multiple constitutional issues was not appropriate. The state’s arguments included a discussion of other tools the courts have to address the need for urgency in a case without a rush to judgment that could damage the Attorney General’s ability to defend state law in the future.
In its response to the state’s motion to reconsider, Planned Parenthood misrepresented that the state had suggested the court issue a stay. The misrepresentation was carried over into the court’s order staying the law.
Planned Parenthood’s misrepresentation and the similar language used by the court in its order likely prompted Conzatti’s email. However, upon being made aware of the facts of the matter, neither he, nor his organization, have corrected the false narrative.