ACLU Idaho Blasts Idaho Sheriff For Misrepresenting Constitution in Scout Flap


A week after a North Idaho Sheriff ripped the Boy Scouts of America for lifting its restrictions to gay scouts, the ACLU of Idaho has some choice words of its own for the lawman.

May 24, Kootenai County Sheriff Ben Wolfinger criticized the BSA and threatened to pull his department's sponsorship of a Boy Scout troop. Wolfinger said the BSA was "promoting a lifestyle that is in violation of [Idaho] state law."

But Monica Hopkins, Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Idaho said Wolfinger was incorrect with his own interpretation of the Idaho Constitution. Hopkins fired off a letter to Wolfinger advising him to retract his controversial statement.

Hopkins told Boise Weekly that the sheriff misinterpreted Idaho’s anti-sodomy laws in a statement she calls “outdated.”

“The letter was prompted to urge the sheriff to update or eliminate any written or unwritten department policies or practices that are premised by this belief,” Hopkins said. “The United States Supreme Court overturned sodomy laws across the country.”

In fact, Hopkins clarified the true status of Idaho’s sodomy laws in her May 30 letter to Wolfinger.

“Our sodomy laws have been invalidated by 2003’s United States Supreme Court decision in Lawrence v. Texas,” she said. “When the Federal Government and Supreme Court decide that something is unconstitutional, it invalidates state laws on the books,” Hopkins said, describing the process known as preemption.

To date, the ACLU of Idaho has heard no response from the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Department.

Ultimately, Hopkins said her letter stressed that “[Sodomy] is not illegal in Idaho, and it is not illegal in any of the Fifty States, because of Supreme Court decisions. It is unconstitutional and a violation of privacy and due process to have criminal laws that regulate private activity between consenting adults.”