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Lawmakers discuss same-sex marriage and criminal code revisions at IU McKinney Law School

January 23, 2013

Two Republican lawmakers are backing off support for holding a second vote on the same-sex marriage amendment, advocating the Legislature take a wait-and-see approach.  

Rep. Jud McMillin, R-Brookville, and Sen. Luke Kenley, R-Noblesville, both advised the Legislature wait to act until the U.S. Supreme Court rules on the two same-sex marriage cases currently pending this term. A resolution calling for a constitutional amendment passed the Indiana General Assembly during the 2011 session and is eligible for a second vote this session. If approved by lawmakers, the measure would be on the 2014 ballot.

However, the legislators pointed out the General Assembly can also vote on the amendment during the 2014 session, and they advocated delaying the process until the Supreme Court takes action.

“With the Supreme Court case pending there’s really no reason to hear that bill or deal with that issue in this session until you have clarification,” Kenley said. “Because if we were to hear it this year and pass it this year, it would have to go on the ballot even if the Supreme Court had already declared it unconstitutional. And I don’t think that would make the Indiana Legislature look very wise.”

McMillin and Kenley were two Indiana lawmakers who spoke at the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law Tuesday evening. They were joined by Sen. Greg Taylor, D-Indianapolis, and Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz for the legislative panel discussion.

The discussion and reception was sponsored by Phi Alpha Delta Law Fraternity and the Black Law Students Association. Indianapolis radio host Amos Brown served as the moderator.

In addition to the same-sex marriage amendment, the legislators also talked about the sweeping revisions proposed for the state’s criminal code. McMillin, a member of the Courts and Criminal Code Committee, framed the issue as a fiscal one.

“I understand the argument when people do a crime, they need to pay for those crimes,” he said. “But those who just want to continually harp on the fact we need to put people away need to understand being tough on crime is also being tough on taxpayers.”

Brown questioned whether lawmakers were fearful of voting for any revision that could open them to the charge of being soft on crime.

Taylor dismissed that assumption. “I think the electorate has become more educated on this issue,” he said. “The electorate understands that if we talk about being smarter on crime, instead of harder on crime, that people understand what we mean by that.”

McKinney Law School Dean Gary Roberts asked the panel about Senate Bill 88 which would require the loser in civil litigation to pay all attorney fees. The dean called the proposal a “radical departure from the American tradition” and said it would change the dynamics of litigation.

Kenley agreed. He said the impact on the civil legal system would be huge with the parties having to decide if they are willing to take a chance and file a case.

“I don’t know whether this has any chance of passing or not, but it would be an enormous change as you pointed out,” he said.


 

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