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U.S. Supreme Court upholds transgender inmate’s sex-reassignment surgery

Adree Edmo
Idaho Department of Correction
Adree Edmo

BOISE, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK) – UPDATE 10/13/2020: The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to overturn a 9th Circuit Court decision which ordered the state of Idaho to provide Idaho prison inmate Adree Edmo with sex-reassignment surgery.

Justice Samuel Alito and Justice Clarence Thomas said in a minority dissent that the case should be moot and vacated by the 9th Circuit Court.

Original Story (5-7-20):
Governor Brad Little announced the State of Idaho has appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn a decision of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ordering the state to provide Idaho inmate Adree Edmo with sex-reassignment surgery.

“At my direction, the State of Idaho has filed the necessary petitions with the U.S. Supreme Court to appeal the Ninth Circuit’s ruling requiring Idaho to pay for an inmate’s sex-reassignment surgery. The Ninth Circuit’s decision goes against the text and original meaning of the Eighth Amendment and contradicts more than four decades of Supreme Court precedent. We will vigorously litigate the Ninth Circuit’s unprecedented ruling at the Supreme Court because the taxpayers of Idaho should not have to pay for a procedure that is not medically necessary,” Governor Little said.

In December of 2018, a federal district judge overruled the treating physician’s determination that inmate Adree Edmo’s sex-reassignment surgery was not medically necessary. The state appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and in August 2019 a three-judge panel affirmed the district judge’s ruling.

The state sought rehearing by the entire Ninth Circuit, which was denied. Ten judges dissented from the denial. One of those dissents, joined by eight judges, found the Ninth Circuit’s decision to be “as unjustified as it is unprecedented.” Opinion respecting denial of rehearing en banc by Judge O’Scannlain at p. 5. 

That dissenting opinion also argued that the state and its prison medical providers “certainly were not guilty of violating the Eighth Amendment.” Opinion respecting denial by Judge O’Scannlain, at p. 33.

Additionally, the state also filed an application to stay (or pause) the district court’s order requiring surgery pending the appeal.

“I am confident the Supreme Court will find the Ninth Circuit is once again outside the judicial mainstream. I wish to thank Attorney General Lawrence Wasden and his deputies for their work. Our two offices have worked together to defend the taxpayer and the Constitution in this case,” Governor Little said.

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