Same-sex marriage memo keeps Pence as defendant in lawsuit

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A federal judge ruled Tuesday that Indiana must recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states, but says the ruling doesn’t take effect until the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rules on the issue.

Chief Judge Richard Young in the Southern District of Indiana held in Bowling, et al. v. Pence, et al., 1:14-CV-00405, that the state must recognize the marriage of Michelle and Shannon Bowling of Indianapolis, who were married in Polk County, Iowa, on Jan. 18, 2011. Shannon Bowling is employed by the Indiana Department of Correction, and the couple sued to seek state benefits for Michelle Bowling and her children from a previous relationship.

A third plaintiff, Linda Bruner of Greenfield, is seeking a divorce from her wife, whom she married in Sioux City, Iowa, on July 20, 2010. But a court in Indianapolis has said it has no authority to dissolve same-sex marriages, the ruling said. Young’s decision says she can seek the dissolution if the 7th Circuit upholds his ruling.

The judge reiterated his finding in the other same-sex marriage challenges by ruling Indiana’s marriage law violates the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause. Bowling is the last same-sex marriage case on the District Court’s docket.

While Young'sruling that the state’s marriage statute is unconstitutional echoes his earlier rulings in the three cases now before the 7th Circuit, Young’s decision to allow Gov. Mike Pence to be included as a defendant is new.

In the three cases Young previously ruled on, he dismissed Pence as a defendant and threw out the first same-sex marriage case filed, Love v. Pence, because the governor was the sole defendant. At that time, the judge agreed with the state that the governor could not be a party to the challenge because he did not enforce the laws.

However, Young pointed out that since his June ruling in Baskin, et al.  v. Bogan, et al., Pence exercised authority he said he did not have when he issued a memo that directed executive branch agencies to function as though the marriage law had not been ruled unconstitutional. The governor sent the memo July 7, after the 7th Circuit had granted a stay in Baskin.  

“Additionally, the court, after witnessing the Governor do what he claimed he could not do, reverses course and finds him to be a proper party to such lawsuits,” Young wrote. “The court wishes to reiterate that it finds the Governor’s prior representations contradicting such authority to be, at a minimum, troubling.”

The 7th Circuit is scheduled to hear oral arguments next week on the state’s appeal of the June 25 ruling by Young throwing out Indiana’s same-sex marriage ban. Hundreds of same-sex couples were married legally in Indiana after the ruling and before the 7th Circuit issued a stay.

“The phenomenon that the court previously observed has continued to grow. Since issuing its prior orders, two circuit courts have found bans similar to Indiana’s to be unconstitutional. This court reaffirms that conclusion,” Young wrote in his ruling.

The Office of the Indiana Attorney General had sought a stay in the Bowling case and plans to file an appeal, spokesman Bryan Corbin said.

“As the lawyer for the state government, the Indiana Attorney General’s Office has a duty to defend Indiana’s statute – passed by the people’s elected representatives in the Legislature – from lawsuits that plaintiffs’ lawyers file, both in the trial court and on appeal.”

The attorney general’s office did not address Young’s ruling that Pence could be a named defendant.


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  1. I think the cops are doing a great job locking up criminals. The Murder rates in the inner cities are skyrocketing and you think that too any people are being incarcerated. Maybe we need to lock up more of them. We have the ACLU, BLM, NAACP, Civil right Division of the DOJ, the innocent Project etc. We have court system with an appeal process that can go on for years, with attorneys supplied by the government. I'm confused as to how that translates into the idea that the defendants are not being represented properly. Maybe the attorneys need to do more Pro-Bono work

  2. We do not have 10% of our population (which would mean about 32 million) incarcerated. It's closer to 2%.

  3. If a class action suit or other manner of retribution is possible, count me in. I have email and voicemail from the man. He colluded with opposing counsel, I am certain. My case was damaged so severely it nearly lost me everything and I am still paying dearly.

  4. There's probably a lot of blame that can be cast around for Indiana Tech's abysmal bar passage rate this last February. The folks who decided that Indiana, a state with roughly 16,000 to 18,000 attorneys, needs a fifth law school need to question the motives that drove their support of this project. Others, who have been "strong supporters" of the law school, should likewise ask themselves why they believe this institution should be supported. Is it because it fills some real need in the state? Or is it, instead, nothing more than a resume builder for those who teach there part-time? And others who make excuses for the students' poor performance, especially those who offer nothing more than conspiracy theories to back up their claims--who are they helping? What evidence do they have to support their posturing? Ultimately, though, like most everything in life, whether one succeeds or fails is entirely within one's own hands. At least one student from Indiana Tech proved this when he/she took and passed the February bar. A second Indiana Tech student proved this when they took the bar in another state and passed. As for the remaining 9 who took the bar and didn't pass (apparently, one of the students successfully appealed his/her original score), it's now up to them (and nobody else) to ensure that they pass on their second attempt. These folks should feel no shame; many currently successful practicing attorneys failed the bar exam on their first try. These same attorneys picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and got back to the rigorous study needed to ensure they would pass on their second go 'round. This is what the Indiana Tech students who didn't pass the first time need to do. Of course, none of this answers such questions as whether Indiana Tech should be accredited by the ABA, whether the school should keep its doors open, or, most importantly, whether it should have even opened its doors in the first place. Those who promoted the idea of a fifth law school in Indiana need to do a lot of soul-searching regarding their decisions. These same people should never be allowed, again, to have a say about the future of legal education in this state or anywhere else. Indiana already has four law schools. That's probably one more than it really needs. But it's more than enough.

  5. This man Steve Hubbard goes on any online post or forum he can find and tries to push his company. He said court reporters would be obsolete a few years ago, yet here we are. How does he have time to search out every single post about court reporters and even spy in private court reporting forums if his company is so successful???? Dude, get a life. And back to what this post was about, I agree that some national firms cause a huge problem.