ILNews

New judicial speech rights suit filed

Michael W. Hoskins
January 1, 2008
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A federal lawsuit challenging Indiana's rules prohibiting judicial candidates from responding to a survey about their views is picking up where a similar suit left off late last year.

The nonprofit Indiana Right to Life Inc. filed a suit April 18 on behalf of Marion Superior Judge David Certo, who is running for the court for the first time after being appointed by Gov. Mitch Daniels to fill a vacancy last year, and Torrey Bauer, a candidate for Kosciusko Superior Court. The case stems from a survey the organization sent March 22, 2008, requesting that candidates state their views about policies and court decisions related to abortion, euthanasia, and other related issues prior to May's primary election.

Most declined to reply to the survey, citing an advisory opinion from the Judicial Qualifications Commission warning judicial candidates against making "broad statements on disputed social and legal issues" because of the potential risk of violating the Indiana Code of Judicial Conduct, the suit states.

Terre Haute attorney James Bopp Jr., lead counsel for the co-plaintiffs, notes in the suit that the state rules contradict precedent from the U.S. Supreme Court, which states that judicial candidates have a right to respond to surveys and voters should have the right to hear what they say. Caselaw on that point is Republican Party of Minnesota v. White, 536 U.S. 765 (2002). The suit states that Indiana's rules and policy are being interpreted to suppress the same sort of free speech that Minnesota had tried to punish.

The suit, Torrey Bauer, et al. v. Randall T. Shepard, et al., No. 08-CV-196, filed in the U.S. District Court, Northern District of Indiana, South Bend Division also asks the court to grant a motion for a temporary restraining order blocking the state from enforcing the rule. A copy of the suit and the motion for a temporary restraining order can be found through the James Madison Center for Free Speech.

This suit is similar to one dismissed by the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in October 2007; that suit also came from the Northern District, where the trial judge had ruled the "pledges" and "commitments" clauses of the state's judicial conduct code were unconstitutional. In Indiana Right to Life, et al. v. Randall T. Shepard, et al., No. 06-4333, the 7th Circuit dismissed Indiana Right to Life's complaint against the state judicial and disciplinary commissions that Canon 5A(3)(d)(i) and (ii) is unconstitutional, stating the group had no standing to bring the complaint because no candidates had come forward to challenge it and none had been disciplined for a violation of the canon.

Indiana Right to Life sent questionnaires in 2002 and 2004 to judicial candidates seeking their answers to similar questions. Few responded, but all mentioned their reasons for declining to answer were their own decisions and not influenced by potential discipline from the Commission on Judicial Qualifications.

Circuit Judge Terence Evans wrote in his opinion that Right to Life needed more than a "right to listen"; it must have "a cognizable injury that is causally connected to the alleged conduct and is capable of being redressed."
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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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