Interview

By NATHAN BROWN

Idaho Gov. Brad Little went on Fox News’ The Ingraham Angle on Tuesday night to defend the state’s position in a lawsuit involving gender confirmation surgery for a transgender inmate.

“We just heartily disagree,” Little said of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ ruling last week saying the state needs to provide Adree Edmo, a transgender inmate who was born male and is housed in a men’s prison but is living as a woman, with gender confirmation surgery. “It’s a bad precedent, it’s going to be expensive, and it’s contrary to the health professionals that we’ve had reviewing inmate Edmo’s record. All the things about the inmate, and it’s just contrary to good practices, and it’s another example of an activist court getting in the middle of something and creating a precedent that’s going to be expensive to the taxpayers of Idaho and potentially all the taxpayers of the United States.”

Edmo was convicted in Bannock County in 2012 of sexually abusing a 15-year-old boy. The Ninth Circuit upheld a previous ruling from U.S. District Court Judge B. Lynn Winmill, siding with Edmo’s medical experts over the state’s and holding that Edmo’s surgery is medically necessary.

The Ingraham Angle, hosted by Laura Ingraham, is one of the main shows on Fox’s weekday prime-time lineup and was the fifth-highest rated prime time cable TV news show in the first quarter of 2019.

Ingraham was a sympathetic interviewer, saying that when she was a federal court clerk she and other clerks used to roll their eyes at rulings by the Ninth Circuit. The Ninth Circuit has come under frequent criticism from conservatives who view its rulings as exceptionally liberal. Idaho’s federal lawmakers have introduced bills in recent years to break the Ninth Circuit, which covers California, Guam, Hawaii, Alaska, Arizona, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon and Washington, in two, and Little himself cited the Ninth Circuit and the Edmo case as part of his rationale for vetoing a bill to raise the threshold to get an initiative on the ballot that likely would have ended up before that court.

“I think people watching across the country, governor, see these kinds of stories and they feel helpless because unelected judges, you know, they’re life tenure on the court, and they feel like, what happened to my country, what happened to common sense?” Ingraham said. “I think people really feel like they’ve lost the culture and it’s a sense of helplessness and kind of sadness at the same time.”

Little said the state plans to appeal the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court. Two other federal courts, he said, had ruled the opposite way in similar cases. A split between circuit courts on an issue generally raises the chances of the Supreme Court taking the case. Ingraham said she thinks the Supreme Court will take it up, and said she hopes the court’s conservative judges are watching closely, mentioning Trump appointees Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch and George W. Bush appointee Samuel Alito by name.

“We’re hopeful that justice will prevail and the taxpayers in Idaho and other states won’t be forced to pay for what we see as a procedure that our health care professionals say is not necessary,” Little said.