By a 4-1 vote, the Idaho Supreme Court has upheld a lower court ruling that a state lottery approved by voters through the initiative process is unconstitutional.
But Idaho voters have a chance to settle the issue for good in November when they cast ballots on whether to amend the state's constitution to create a lottery.Idaho voters approved a lottery initiative in 1986 by a 60-percent vote, and Gov. Cecil Andrus declared the initiative law as of Nov. 19, 1986.
But, for varying reasons, the Associated Taxpayers of Idaho Inc., Idaho Allied Christian Forces and Help Idaho Thrive filed lawsuits seeking to have the initiative struck down as unconstitutional.
A March 1986 ruling by 4th District Judge Gerald Schroeder declared the initiative unconstitutional, and Gov. Andrus appealed that ruling to the Idaho Supreme Court.
There was only one issue on Andrus' appeal: Whether the Idaho Constitution, which prohibits the state Legislature from authorizing "any lottery or gift enterprise," prohibits voters from enacting a lottery through initiative.
The Supreme Court sided with plaintiffs and ruled the state constitution prohibits a lottery created by initiative.
John Kurtz, a lawyer for Andrus, argued before the court in defense of the initiative by citing the 1912 constitutional amendment in which it was created.
"It says `the people reserve to themselves the power to propose laws and enact the same at the polls independent of the Legislature,' " Kurtz said.
But the court ruled that although legislation passed by initiative is of the same force and effect as that enacted by the Legislature and approved by the governor, it must not violate the state constitution.