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Governor, Election Commission now defendants in Marion County election case

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A federal suit that challenges the constitutionality of Marion County judicial elections has been amended to name the governor and members of the Indiana Election Commission as defendants.

Common Cause and the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana have amended their complaint that seeks a hearing on an injunction against enforcement of Indiana Code 33-33-49-13. The amended complaint in Common Cause v. Indiana Secretary of State, 1:12-CV-1603, was filed Thursday in the District Court for the Southern District of Indiana.

The complaint was amended after the state filed a motion to dismiss, claiming the complaint fails to state a claim on which relief can be granted and is barred by the 11th Amendment. The state also claims that the secretary of state is powerless to enforce the law in question.

Common Cause in its complaint filed in November said the law setting forth the process for electing Marion Superior judges is “unique in Indiana, and perhaps in the nation.”

State law permits Democratic and Republican parties to conduct primary elections to fill exactly half of the judicial seats, “which renders the general election a mere formality,” according to a statement from ACLU of Indiana. Each party “slates” 10 candidates before the primary for 10 judicial vacancies allotted to each party. Voters in the general election then choose up to 20 judges of the 20 on the ballot.

The process of “slating” of Marion County Superior judicial races has drawn criticism, since each candidate who earned the party’s endorsement on the primary ballot contributed identical amounts to the local party before each party’s slating convention preceding the primary. For Democrats, the contribution was $13,100; for Republicans, it was $12,000, according to a review of campaign contributions earlier this year by Indiana Lawyer.

No hearing has been set in the matter.

 

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  • Slating?
    I think there needs to be a correction. I believe the lawsuit only challenges the process by which the Democrats nominate half the judges and the Republicans nominate half and everyone is elected in the fall, leaving voters without a choice. I don't believe the lawsuit challenges slating at all. Slating is a separate matter from the issue raised in the lawsuit.

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