The Idaho Freedom Index — A Scorecard for Conservative Principles (Part 1 of 3)


I have recently written two articles discussing the first eight of the twelve principles the Idaho Freedom Foundation Index (IFFI) uses to score bills that legislators vote on. The IFFI principles are also found in the Idaho Republican Party Platform (IRPP), the gold standard for Republican beliefs. So, when a legislator gets a bad IFFI grade, he often is not following the IRPP. This article looks at the last four IFFI principles and compares them to the IRPP.

The ninth IFFI principle asks, “Does it violate the principle of equal protection under the law?” This principle is found in the IRPP, which states, “We believe in equal rights, equal justice and equal opportunity for all, regardless of race, creed, sex, age or disability.”

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The IFFI and the IRPP both believe in equal protection under the law. The IFFI helps voters quickly determine whether legislators are treating people equally or whether they’re voting for special loopholes for friends and lobbyists.

The tenth IFFI principle asks, “Does it directly or indirectly create or increase penalties for victimless crimes or non-restorative penalties for non-violent crimes?” This principle is found in the IRPP, which states, “We support creative alternative sentencing, such as drug courts, and treatment for nonviolent drug offenders.” Both the IFFI and IRPP recognize that heavy handed criminal penalties for victimless crimes often really punish the taxpayer who ends up paying for expensive incarceration while doing little for the offender.

The eleventh IFFI principle asks, “Does it violate the spirit or the letter of either the U.S. Constitution or the Idaho Constitution?” This principle is found in the IRPP, which states, “We believe the United States Constitution is the greatest and most inspired document to govern a nation, and the republican form of government it gives us is the best guarantor of freedom in history.”

The IFFI and the IRPP are supportive of the United States and Idaho Constitutions. Every voter should be supportive of the United States and Idaho Constitutions. Next time you hear someone being critical of the IFFI, you should ask yourself, “I wonder if this person really supports the United States and Idaho Constitutions.”

The twelfth IFFI principle asks, “Does it violate the principles of federalism by increasing federal authority, yielding to federal blandishments, or incorporating changeable federal laws into Idaho statutes or rules?” This principle is also found in the IRPP, which states, “We believe the State of Idaho should strongly assert its sovereignty under the 10th amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The accumulated usurpations by the federal government of Idaho’s state sovereignty has reached a point of complete intolerance.”

Both the IFFI and the IRPP identify federal overreach as a usurpation of Idaho’s sovereign authority. You should too. Luckily, the IFFI identifies legislation and legislators who promote federal overreach.

IFFI scores are used to grade legislators just like a teacher issues grades to students. But just like some students blame their teacher when they get bad grades, some legislators blame the IFFI when they get bad grades instead of acknowledging they’ve departed from conservative principles.


Bryan Smith serves as the second vice chairman of the state Republican Party. He also serves as a board member on the Idaho Freedom Foundation.

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