Case Details


Right To Challenged Constitutionality Of State Statutes

Filing State



Idaho Supreme Court




Wasden v. State Board of Land Commissioners, 280 P.3d 693 (Id. 2012).


Attorney general has standing to challenge constitutionality of state statute, and statute was found unconstitutional

Case Description

Idaho’s Board of Land Commissioners (of which the Attorney General is a member) is the trustee for state “endowment” lands, the revenues from which are to be used to support public schools and other public institutions. Several hundred “cottage sites” (land leased for residential purposes) are on endowment lands. In most situations, if two or more people seek to lease endowment land, the state Department of Lands is required to hold an auction and award the land to the highest bidder. However, a state statue specifically exempted cottage sites from this auction requirement. The Attorney General challenged the constitutionality of the statute exempting cottage sites, because the state constitution requires a public auction for any “disposal” of public trust land. The district court held that the statute was constitutional because the leases did not amount to “disposal” of the land. On appeal to the Idaho supreme court, cottage site lessees challenged the Attorney General’s standing to pursue a claim that the statute is unconstitutional. The supreme court held the Attorney General should be entitled to special solicitude in the standing analysis because he litigates on behalf of the people of Idaho and their sovereign interests.” The court noted that in this case, the Attorney General wears two hats. First, as the state’s legal counsel, he is responsible for upholding Idaho’s Constitution. “Therefore, it is incumbent upon the Attorney General to safeguard the Constitution against legislative enactments that encroach upon or conflict with its provisions.” Second, as a member of the Board, the Attorney General must protect trust assets. “Because of the unique position of the Attorney General as counsel for the State of Idaho and as a trustee of the State endowment lands, the Attorney General is not subject to the usual standing analysis. But, even if that were the case, the Attorney General has standing here. He is pursuing this action on behalf of the endowment land beneficiaries.”