Idaho governor talks transgender inmate ruling on Fox show
Cynthia Sewell, Idaho Statesman
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BOISE (Idaho Statesman) — Idaho is at the center of a national case over whether denying prison inmates gender reassignment surgery violates the U.S. Constitution.
Idaho Gov. Brad Little on Aug. 27 went on the Fox show “Ingraham Angle” to discuss why the state is willing to take to the U.S. Supreme Court a recent 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision that the state must pay for a transgender prison inmate’s gender reassignment surgery.
The 9th Circuit ruling stems from a lawsuit filed by Adree Edmo, 31, an Idaho Department of Correction inmate who was born male but identifies as a woman. Edmo is serving a sentence of three to 10 years for sexual abuse of a child under 16 in Bannock County.
The 9th Circuit said denying Edmo gender reassignment surgery violates the Eighth Amendment’s cruel and unusual punishment protection.
“The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals is playing political activist once again, ruling last week that Idaho must pay for the gender reassignment surgery of a criminally convicted individual who sexually abused a 15-year-old boy,” Ingraham said.
Little responded: “We just heartily disagree. It’s a bad precedent. … It’s another example of an activist court getting in the middle of something and creating a precedent that’s going to be expensive for the taxpayers of Idaho and potentially all the taxpayers of the United States.”
If Idaho is forced to perform the procedure on Edmo, it would be the first time in the nation an inmate has undergone gender reassignment surgery while in custody.
Ingraham told viewers Edmo’s case is “a complete scam.”
Little said Idaho will appeal the 9th Circuit’s decision, noting that two other federal courts have ruled the opposite in similar cases.
“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,” he said.