Idaho State Senator Revives State Militia Measure


State militias aren't anything new. From the founding of our nation until the beginning of the 20th century, state militias supplied the majority of U.S. troops. But the National Guard has been in effect since 1903, and federal law mandates that the Guard is our nation's "organized militia."

That hasn't kept 22 states from creating their own active "State Defense Forces," with different levels of activity, support and strength. And now, a Caldwell Republican senator wants to revive an Idaho state militia, which he says would bring the state into "compliance."

Sen. Jim Rice says that the National Guard continues to be Idaho's active duty militia, but he wants to move military service out of the Idaho Constitution and into Idaho statute.

“It’s really not something to get stirred up about,” Rice told the Idaho Press-Tribune. “It’s just an update to the constitution so that we can be in compliance. And a lot of it is that constitutions really mean something. If it says that the legislator is supposed to do something, it means that, and the only ones who can legitimately change it are the citizens.”

The Idaho Constitution currently requires that every able-bodied male from 18 to 45 years of age be enrolled in a state militia. Rice wants to expand the militia language to remove the enrollment requirement and to include women and adults over 45, then define the state militia by statute rather than the constitution. Rice says the statutes already exist that "define all able-bodied adults in Idaho as members of a militia."