Following the 2020 US Presidential election, many dissatisfied voters were left jaded by the failure of our political and judicial systems to address what they believed to be valid concerns in how some states administered their elections. I consider myself one of those people. This widespread concern is demonstrated in the litany of ongoing legal challenges, investigations, audits, and legislative changes that have ensued since that time. One such legal challenge was a lawsuit brought in Texas v. Pennsylvania by the Attorney General of the State of Texas, Ken Paxton, and signed onto by 18 other state attorneys general. Many petitioners placed their hopes in this particular legal challenge as the best chance to get their say in court, given the expediency required for challenges to provide resolution. Many petitioned Idaho Representation, including the office of Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden, in the hope that Idaho would join in redress of electoral grievance on behalf of its citizenry. Wasden ultimately declined to join in the suit, and the Supreme Court declined to hear the suit on grounds of standing.
One such petitioner of Wasden’s office was Idaho attorney, Art Macomber. Art came to my attention in another publication in which he sat for an interview regarding his candidacy for Attorney General of Idaho, and the role of the state attorney general’s office in challenging electoral disputes such as this. Being of the mind that our Republic only works when each state runs free and transparent elections, I too was hopeful that Idaho would speak on behalf of my household. When Wasden’s office declined, I set out to research alternative candidates for the office, and that is how I came across Mr. Macomber. I am of the mindset that an ever-encroaching federal government will require a strong and bold state attorney general to push back on federal overreach in the coming years. For this reason, I contacted Mr. Macomber’s office to inquire more about his candidacy for local publication, and he obliged. The following questions were submitted, and responses provided by Mr. Macomber.
Please take a moment and introduce yourself to the voters of Idaho:
I am a builder and patriot whose working experience gives me a practical view of the law. My scholarly nature combined with my business experience makes me concerned about the stability of the structure of the Idaho Republic. My concern extends from its three branches to its ability to protect individual rights. I worry about how well our rights and liberties are enhanced and protected by those State structures. My wife Leslie and I enjoy a productive and invincible 30-year marriage bond. Our two children are a joy and a wonder to behold as God’s creations, and my candidacy for the Attorney General of Idaho position is only the latest in faith journeys for our family.
I noticed you have law offices in both Idaho as well as Washington state? Do you practice in both Idaho and Washington?
I practice in Idaho, Washington, and Montana.
Tell us about your legal experience and focus:
I went to law school at age 45, and began my solo practice in Coeur d’Alene in 2006. The firm has now grown to five attorneys handling both transactions and litigation for real estate, water, construction, and contractual matters generally, as well as a smattering of constitutional, municipal, and election law issues. My focus in the law is on structure and the history of the common law, because Idaho is a common law State.
How would you describe your legal philosophy? Originalist? Textualist?
Originalism is a legal doctrine used primarily for constitutional interpretation; the word “original” indicating that when interpreting a constitution the words themselves are construed as an ordinary member of the public would have construed them during the ratification of the document. I am an originalist.
Textualism is a legal doctrine used primarily for statutory and contract interpretation. We read the plain meaning of the text, and only in cases of ambiguity do we leave the text to try to determine the intent of the legislature or the contract parties. I am also a textualist.
Both originalism and textualism make the law easy to understand for non-lawyers, because no divining rods, special legal incantations, knowledge of Latin, or discernment of auras is necessary. In the Idaho Republic, it is critical for citizens to understand the law.
What prompted you to run for Idaho Attorney General?
I am running for attorney general because I see Idaho over the decades becoming too dependent on the federal government for its fiscal health, and the introduction into our society of unsustainable governmental processes, a plethora of rules, and debt.
In your opinion, what is the primary role of the Attorney General of the State of Idaho?
The Idaho Attorney General is the top law enforcement official in the State, responsible for defending the rights of the people of the State of Idaho, the government of Idaho, and for other statutory purposes found in Chapter 14 of Title 67 of Idaho Code.
It is my position that given the current posture of an encroaching federal government, the State Attorney General position stands to play a very important role in the next few years. Can you describe your vision for this office?
My vision is that Idaho’s Attorney General needs to vigorously defend Idaho’s State sovereignty, with a vigilant eye toward protecting the individual rights of the people found in Article 1 of the Idaho Constitution.
Attorney General is somewhat of a sleeper position in that the general public doesn’t often put a lot of thought or extra consideration into it. Lawrence Wasden is the current Attorney General of Idaho and has been in this position since 2002, even running unopposed at times. The 2022 election will represent 20 years in the current office. Are you in favor of term limits for this position?
No. However, one of Idaho’s core values is small government, and longevity by one person in any position leads to ossification of processes and procedures that lead to larger government. This is not because an incumbent is a bad person, it is simply human nature. All government jobs need new blood from time to time, whether we are getting rid of old deadwood, or adapting to new circumstances.
When I initially contacted you about your participation in Idaho electoral reform, you provided me with a list of recommendations from the Citizens Committee for Election Integrity that met in Boise in late 2020. Having reviewed these recommendations that you provided, are there any that you feel are not currently met by the existing Idaho statutes?
Yes, and the best way to address these measures would be for the legislature to create an interim committee to review all of Title 34, which includes the elections statutes for Idaho.
In my research, I believe I read that the 2000 Bush v Gore electoral challenge that went before the SCOTUS had something in the neighborhood of 20-30 affiants presented, while the Trump electoral challenges offered >932 affiants, and yet the courts refused to hear very few cases on their merits. Video surveillance footage of clear malfeasance in Georgia, coupled with a State Senate Judiciary report that came to the same conclusion, and I expected at a minimum the opportunity to present very valid concerns before a judge. Given the largely blanket denials based on standing, it was clear that the system had no intention of litigating any failures on the part of states in administering elections. Yet, in a letter to current Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden, you urged Idaho to join onto Texas’ suit against Pennsylvania. Most readers will have no legal background and thus cannot weigh in on the merits of this standing claim, but can you describe to the reader in your opinion, who exactly should have standing and what went wrong with legal challenges brought?
Standing is a legal doctrine stating a petitioner to a court has suffered or is in imminent danger of suffering harm unless the court accepts the case. Article 1 section 4 of the US Constitution states, “The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations, except as to the Places of chusing Senators.”
The State of Texas argued that it had standing to petition the U.S. Supreme Court regarding four other States’ alleged violation of Article 1 Section 4, because the legislatures in those States did not make the rules related to the times, places, and manner of holding elections for senators and representatives in 2020. Texas argued that the votes of its citizens were negatively impacted in some way by Pennsylvania’s (and other States’) violations. The U.S. Supreme Court said Texas did not have standing.
There is a valid question whether Texas had standing as a State. Perhaps Texas’ voters had standing, or perhaps Pennsylvania’s voters had standing. Because Article 1 Section 4 involves elections for senators and representatives, it could be that a federal senator or federal representative for Texas would have standing. However, without the 17th amendment, which took the appointment of federal senators from the State legislatures, it appears both federal senators and federal representatives ultimately represent the voters of Texas, and so it is more likely than not that Texas’ voters would have standing.
This legal question has never been asked before. The U.S. Supreme Court dismissed the case on the threshold issue of standing, and thus no “opinion” was given. In my opinion, Texas had standing, because it is the best legal entity that could timely challenge the election, a class-action lawsuit of all the Texas voters being unwieldy and untimely. In addition, the US Constitution is a creation of “We the People,” with ratification by the States, and so if a State violates it, another State should have standing to challenge the violation.
Finally, we’re quite a ways off from the 2022 Elections, but can you briefly tell readers why you’re the best choice for Idaho’s next Attorney General?
A strong and flexible Republic that can vigorously protect the rights and liberties of the citizens can only be maintained if a person with practical private experience and extensive knowledge of the structures of the law can step in to provide the necessary vision. I have that experience, knowledge, and vision.
Art Macomber is a practicing attorney based in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, and a Republican Candidate for Attorney General of Idaho in 2022. For more information on Art, you can visit his website at https://macomberforidaho.com/
Photo source: https://unsplash.com/photos/cBx1EygM3BM