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Editorial: More of the same?

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Indiana Lawyer Editorial

They’re back, and like most citizens who watch with interest the goings on in the Indiana General Assembly, we’re not sure it’s altogether a good thing.

House Democrats ended their five-week walkout, and now we seem ready to get on with the business at hand: continuing the process by which Indiana can enshrine in its Constitution the discriminatory legislation some lawmakers are convinced without which heterosexual marriage will become endangered; and continuing the work toward passing an Arizona-style immigration law, without which some are certain our economy will collapse under the weight of all the welfare we apparently provide to people not in the country legally.

For a party that seems both at the state and national level to pride itself on a platform of small government and getting government out of everyone’s lives, Republicans certainly have a peculiar means of demonstrating these values.

Few things are more conservative than big business, and that some of Indiana’s largest employers have testified that our proposed same-sex marriage prohibition amendment and our determination to become the next Arizona regarding immigration will actually harm our business interests seems no deterrent to legislators who would advocate for such discriminatory practices.

Given that this is the kind of behavior we’ve become accustomed to expect from our legislators, no matter the political stripe, we must say that the bar is set remarkably low regarding what we expect from the last weeks of the legislative session.

We could be moving closer to completing the work of the Judicial Technology and Automation Committee with the case management system that has been implemented in 81 courts of 26 counties statewide. JTAC advocated for legislation that would have tacked on a modest fee increase to certain court filings to fund the project through its completion; the fee would have decreased upon the project’s completion. Instead, legislators delivered a funding cut.

We understand the argument that some have against our courts being in this business and that some would rather have seen private enterprise deliver this service. Restricting funding for a project that is about a third of the way completed seems like a tremendous waste of public funding.

Judicial raises are under threat again, after years of being non-existent. A law was passed in 2005 that tied judges’ pay raises to that of other state workers. But language is now on the table that would circumvent the change.

That such a move could undo all of the effort that went into finally securing a means for these judicial officers to be treated the same way all other public employees are treated is despicable and shows a contempt for our legal system. Either the state can afford to give all public employees a pay raise in the next budget or it cannot; all should be treated the same way.

Most bar association leaders who watch the Legislature say they expect no mischief in the waning days of the session.

We’d like to be able to express that sort of optimism.•

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  1. So that none are misinformed by my posting wihtout a non de plume here, please allow me to state that I am NOT an Indiana licensed attorney, although I am an Indiana resident approved to practice law and represent clients in Indiana's fed court of Nth Dist and before the 7th circuit. I remain licensed in KS, since 1996, no discipline. This must be clarified since the IN court records will reveal that I did sit for and pass the Indiana bar last February. Yet be not confused by the fact that I was so allowed to be tested .... I am not, to be clear in the service of my duty to be absolutely candid about this, I AM NOT a member of the Indiana bar, and might never be so licensed given my unrepented from errors of thought documented in this opinion, at fn2, which likely supports Mr Smith's initial post in this thread: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html

  2. When I served the State of Kansas as Deputy AG over Consumer Protection & Antitrust for four years, supervising 20 special agents and assistant attorneys general (back before the IBLE denied me the right to practice law in Indiana for not having the right stuff and pretty much crushed my legal career) we had a saying around the office: Resist the lure of the ring!!! It was a take off on Tolkiem, the idea that absolute power (I signed investigative subpoenas as a judge would in many other contexts, no need to show probable cause)could corrupt absolutely. We feared that we would overreach constitutional limits if not reminded, over and over, to be mindful to not do so. Our approach in so challenging one another was Madisonian, as the following quotes from the Father of our Constitution reveal: The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties. I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power. All men having power ought to be mistrusted. -- James Madison, Federalist Papers and other sources: http://www.constitution.org/jm/jm_quotes.htm RESIST THE LURE OF THE RING ALL YE WITH POLITICAL OR JUDICIAL POWER!

  3. My dear Mr Smith, I respect your opinions and much enjoy your posts here. We do differ on our view of the benefits and viability of the American Experiment in Ordered Liberty. While I do agree that it could be better, and that your points in criticism are well taken, Utopia does indeed mean nowhere. I think Madison, Jefferson, Adams and company got it about as good as it gets in a fallen post-Enlightenment social order. That said, a constitution only protects the citizens if it is followed. We currently have a bevy of public officials and judicial agents who believe that their subjectivism, their personal ideology, their elitist fears and concerns and cause celebs trump the constitutions of our forefathers. This is most troubling. More to follow in the next post on that subject.

  4. Yep I am not Bryan Brown. Bryan you appear to be a bigger believer in the Constitution than I am. Were I still a big believer then I might be using my real name like you. Personally, I am no longer a fan of secularism. I favor the confessional state. In religious mattes, it seems to me that social diversity is chaos and conflict, while uniformity is order and peace.... secularism has been imposed by America on other nations now by force and that has not exactly worked out very well.... I think the American historical experiment with disestablishmentarianism is withering on the vine before our eyes..... Since I do not know if that is OK for an officially licensed lawyer to say, I keep the nom de plume.

  5. I am compelled to announce that I am not posting under any Smith monikers here. That said, the post below does have a certain ring to it that sounds familiar to me: http://www.catholicnewworld.com/cnwonline/2014/0907/cardinal.aspx

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