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Indiana Senate president pro tem pushes for Constitutional Convention

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Indiana Senate President Pro Tem David Long admits his effort to convene a state-driven Constitutional Convention will be a struggle.

Other states could agree to participate then later decide to drop out. They could dismiss his proposal for a single-issue convention in favor of tackling a host of grievances. And they could snub his model legislation that would place restrictions on the behavior of the convention delegates.

However, the Fort Wayne Republican believes something has to be done to stop what he characterized as the federal government’s meddling and trampling of states’ rights.
 

Long_David-15col.jpg Indiana Senate President Pro Tem David Long, R-Fort Wayne, talks to reporters about his push for a Constitutional Convention. (IL Photo/ Perry Reichanadter)

“The founders gave us that ability,” Long said, in reference to Article V of the U.S. Constitution which gives states the power to hold a convention without congressional interference. “It’s tougher now than when there were only 13 states, yes I understand that, but they gave us that ability expecting us to utilize it as a key tool to limit federal overreach … .”

This session, Long has authored Senate Joint Resolution 18 which makes an application to Congress to call a Constitutional Convention. He has also introduced two companion measures, Senate bills 224 and 225, which outline how to appoint delegates and their duties.

The resolution and accompanying bills overwhelmingly gained approval in the Senate and have moved to the House of Representatives where all three pieces of legislation are sponsored by Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis.

Indianapolis attorney Scott Chinn, partner at Faegre Baker Daniels LLP, also acknowledged the difficulty in getting 34 states to agree to a single-issue convention, but he did not dismiss the notion of making the effort.

“My opinion is this ought to be taken very seriously,” he said.

Controlling the convention

Under the provisions in Long’s resolution, the states would call upon Congress to establish a Constitutional Convention as directed by Article V of the Constitution. Most important, the gathering would draft an amendment that would only address putting limits on the commerce clause and federal taxing powers.

Long sees an amendment as the only way to restrain what he calls Washington’s inability to control spending.

“(The states) certainly have the right to defend themselves against the constant unfunded mandates that come down the line from the federal government in areas really where they have absolutely no business or rights but, again, because they have the purse strings, they’re able to literally get the states to do what they want,” Long said.

Sen. John Broden, D-South Bend, was among a small coalition of mostly Democrats voting against Long’s convention resolution and bills.

He cannot envision states signing on to convene a convention under such narrow terms and, therefore, getting the necessary two-thirds will be difficult. Moreover, he believes the one-and-a-half hours devoted to debating Long’s proposals would have been better spent addressing other matters.

“I have faith in our Supreme Court in delineating these matters,” Broden said. “I don’t always agree with every Supreme Court ruling but I prefer the way things are being adjudicated through the courts.”

Still, Long is adamant about making the attempt. He crafted the two companion bills as a model for other states to follow to ensure the convention delegates stick to their appointed duties and to prevent the gathering from becoming a runaway convention.

SB 225 details who is eligible to be an Indiana delegate and alternate to the Constitutional Convention and how the General Assembly would make the appointments.

The duties of the delegates and alternates are spelled out in SB 224. Provisions include voiding votes cast outside the scope of instructions given by the Indiana Legislature and recalling delegates who do vote or even attempt to vote outside the instructions. In addition, delegates knowingly or intentionally casting such a vote could be charged with a Class D felony.

The bill establishes an advisory group comprised of the chief justice of the Indiana Supreme Court, the chief judge of the Indiana Court of Appeals and the judge of the Indiana Tax Court. Delegates can seek the guidance of this group in determining if a vote would violate the instructions.

Left to the delegates and alternates at the convention would be the specific language in any amendment. While his resolution states any proposed constitutional amendment could only deal with limiting commerce and taxing power, Long has not offered any model or advisories on how it should read.

In response to those who say the convention could not be controlled, Long asserted they have not read the bills and are not paying attention to the language.

“That’s the problem. The critics are there without an alternative, and I say under these circumstances what are we afraid of?” Long said. “I mean the path that we are going down today is one of uncontrolled spending by the federal government that isn’t doing anything to contain itself. It’s threatening, I think, the future of this nation and for our kids, I think, the debt that they’re being forced to absorb is crushing.”

As an example of the overreach, Long pointed to the federal government withholding highway transportation dollars because Indiana had not made “some small move” on its drunken driving laws. States should be able to decide how they want to write, for instance, drunken driving and seatbelt laws, he said, but the federal government cuts payments if the laws do not meet its standards.

“It’s getting to the point where it’s just one government – the federal government – and we’re just acting at their will,” Long said.

To Geoffrey Slaughter, partner at Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP, the Senate president’s example of how transportation money is used is not governed by the taxing power or commerce clause, but rather by Congress’s spending power.

In 1987, the Supreme Court addressed this very issue in South Dakota v. Dole, Secretary of Transportation, 86-260. The federal government was holding back funds because South Dakota would not increase its drinking age from 19 to 21.

The majority of the court characterized the withholding of funds as a “relatively mild encouragement” and concluded that is a “valid use of the spending power.”

Slaughter noted spending power could be addressed in the amendment through limiting the taxing powers.

Although the consensus of Long’s attorneys is that the spending aspect is included in the taxing authority, Long said the verbiage in the bills could be amended to specifically cover spending.

Constructive conversation

Long’s argument for states’ rights centers around what Chinn called the “great question” of every century of how much deference the federal government should give to the states. Pushing a resolution for establishing a convention provides a framework for a constructive conversation about the role of the federal government in state affairs.

“I think Indiana has often been a state concerned with asserting its own sovereignty status and not just yielding to the federal government and federal legislation,” Chinn said.

Broden sees the resolution and Senate bills as evidence of a heightened frustration fueled by the re-election of President Barack Obama. This is also the first legislative session since the Supreme Court upheld the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. These events seemed to have increased the tension about the perceived overreach of the federal government.

During Obama’s first term, Broden said, concerns about spending were typically just complaining. Now, the anger has risen to the level of legislation being introduced and passed.

“My sense is,” he added, “this is a different level of intensity.”•

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  1. Am I the only one who sees that the City is essentially giving away the MSA site AND giving millions to build new buildings on the site when this site would be the perfect place for the Justice Complex? Across from City-County, check; keeping it centrally located, check, etc. It's my understanding that the GM site must be purchased by the City from Motors Liquidation Company. STOP WASTING WHAT WE ALREADY HAVE AND OUR TAX DOLLARS! The Ballard Administration has not been known for it's common sense...never voted for him and never will!

  2. This guy sounds like the classic molester/manipulator.

  3. Louis D. Brandeis was born in 1856. At 9 years of age it would have been 1865. The Brandeis family did not own slaves. My source Louis D. Brandeis: A Life, by Melvin L. Urofsky.

  4. My name is Matthew Lucas Major, I recently went through a jury trial in Bloomington , In. It was the week of Feb 19-21. Although I have been incarcerated since August 5, 2014. The reason I 'am writing to you sir is on the 21 of February the jury came in with a very excessive and wrongful verdict of guilty on 6 child molesting charges against my daughter who was 9 at the time I was accused. I also had 2 other Felonies one of Intimidation and 1 of Sexual Vicarious Gratification. Judge Marc Kellam on the second day of trial gave me a not guilty on those 2 felonies. The jury was sent out during that time and when brought back Judge Kellam told them to not concern themselves with the 2 Felonies that he ruled on them. They were told to not let evidence they had already heard influence there verdicts. I never in my life touched any child sexually and definitely not with my own daughter. When I was arrested Detective Shawn Karr told me I would be convicted guilty just on my daughters word even without evidence. That's just what happened. my public defender did me so wrong he never once proved to the court and jury all the lies the child told, and Jeremy Noel my public defender could of proven the lies easily. The stories in Serenity's depositions and Forensic interview changed and were not consistent as Prosecutor Darcie Fawcett claimed they were. Yet my attorney never mentioned that. The facts that the child accused me of full penetration in her vagina and rectum was proven lies. Doctor Roberta Hibbard of Riley hospital in Indianapolis confirmed Serenity's hymen intact, no scars, no tearing, no signs of rape to her. Yet my attorney didn't use that knowledge . the DNA was all in my favor. I tell you I will spend my entire life in prison going through rape and beatings etc. even Judge Kellam abused his authority by telling the jurors to listen and believe what the prosecutors side in evidence like my daughters testimony. In one interview with the detectives my daughter got flustered with her mom and said on camera " I'm saying what you told me to mom"!! Yet Mr. Noel said nor did anything to even resemble a defense attorney. Judge Kellam allowed edited version of a taped conversation between the child and her mother. Also Judge Kellam allowed the Prosecutor too bring in to my case a knife found under my seat, the knife wasn't part of my case. She was allowed by my attorney and the judge to put a huge picture of it on the screen and huge picture of my naked privates in a full courtroom and open court. Ms. Fawcett says to jury see how easy Mr. Major could reach the knife and cut his Childs throat. Even though I had no weapons charge against these cases. This gave the jurors prejudice thought against me thinking I threatened her with that knife and how scared she would of been knowing i could get it and kill her. On my sentencing court March 19, 2014 my public defender told Judge Kellam he wish to resign from being my attorney and wished for the court to give me outside council to file a error to trial or appeal. We were denied. Now after openly knowing my public defender don't want to represent me he has to. Well when as parents we make our kids clean a room when they really don't wish to, well the child will but don't mean she will do a good job, that's where I'm at with Mr. Noel. please dont ignore mine and my families pleas for your help . we have all the legal proof you could need to prove Im innocent. Please dont make my spend years in prison innocent when you can fix this wrong. Im not saying Im a perfect man or that I was a perfect dad to my 2 children none of us are. Ive made some bad choices in life and I paid for them. But I didnt ever touch or rape my daughter . I love my children with all my heart. And now through needing attention and a ex-wife who told my granny several times she wish she could put me in prison to get me out of their lives. Well my ex finally accomplished her goal. Sad part is she is destroying our daughter with all this horrific lies and things she taught my daughter to say. My daughter will need therapist to ever hope for a chance of a normal life after what she had done to her by her mom and their side of the family. My daughter told everyone even on stand she had a dream months before i supposedly molested her in this dream I was molesting her and when I finally did it matched her dream perfectly. She admitted to watching movies about little girls being molested and watching U-Tube videos about child molesting all before it happened supposedly to her. Doesn't that sound very unusual that a non molested 9 yr old would need to know so much about being molested? The only reason I could think a 9 year old would need so much information is to be prepared to know what to say and be able to say how it felt what took place etc.. So when questioned by authorities she would be prepared. And there again sir if a parent is pre grooming a 9 year old child she would need intimate details . Like telling her daughter about a couple moles on my private area. The child admitted to sneaking my cell and looking many many times at nudes of me and my girlfriend even one where my penis was entering my girlfriends vagina. In that picture my moles are obvious. Yet when prosecutor showed everyone in court my privates and pictures of the moles she said the only way the child would know about them is if she saw them for herself. My attorney once again said nothing about the pictures my child saw. Or could a ex-wife be able to describe my moles to help her case against getting rid of me? I beg you help me. This is my very existence. Ive lost everything , a good job, a wonderful girlfriend, my freedom, but worse thing Ive lost is my children. They were my reason to get up every morning and strive to be better. The wonderful bond I had with my Serenity is gone. After this I would be afraid to even hug her for fear of what next can they do to me. I'm not afraid to tell you I sit here in this cell and try to hold back my tears. Everyone knows you cant show weakness in prison. My life has already been threatened here at Wabash Valley Prison. After only 3 days of arrival. I was tricked into signing a waiver now Im in G Block General Population with 6 child molesting felony charges. Mrs. Hart as a 18 year old I almost died hooked to machines in hospital almost 1 month and now I know that fear was childish compared to this . I cant help but put emotions in this, after all Mrs. Hart Im human and God help Me I never been more afraid in my life. I didnt hurt my little girl I didnt touch her sexually. As much as it shreds me and fills my mind what Im facing I worry more about my mom and granny because of their great love for me mam they are suffering so deeply. I aint done this things but my loved ones suffering right along beside me and If you take my case you will be in essence freeing them also. I sent momma this letter and asked her to email it to you. I'm scared I have been done so unjustly by our legal system and I need you to fix this and give me freedom. I ask you please don't just ignore my pleas. Here in America its nice to be able to trust our legal justice system, well they destroyed my and my loved ones trust in our justice system . And I'm trusting in You !!! My entire family is suffering this nightmare with me. My 77 year old granny had a stroke and isn't doing so well. My single mother that raised 3 kids alone is dying from Lupus and since my arrest has stayed so sick and weary. Our lives torn to peices by a government I was taught I could trust in. my momma has tried so many innocent project and wrongfully accused and cant get anywhere. please please help me. A quote from the late Nelson Mandela: To be free is not merely to cast off ones chains, But to live in a way that respects and enhances The Freedom Of Others. I have Faith in you and your clinic to cast my chains off and give me freedom I do deserve as a wrongfully accused Man, son, brother, father, friend. Matthew Major DOC# 246179 Cause # : 53c02-1308-FA-000779 God Bless you. Please contact me with your decision so I know you made a life changing decision for me , just please at least write me so I know you care enough about your citizens to respond to cries for your help. You can speak openly with my mother Charlotte Spain (828) 476-0406: 71 Lakeview Dr. Canton, NC 28716 Thank You Matthew Major I know yall get thousands of request and inmates claiming innocence, and each person who are innocent deserve to have organizations like yours willing to fight for them and I give yall so much Thanks and I thank God everyday yall are out there caring enough to help free the innocents. Since discovering firsthand how easily lives and families can be destroyed by Poor Defense attorneys not doing their job . And Prosecutors allowed to do as they please in court

  5. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

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