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SCOTUS denies cert, upholding Indiana's judicial canons

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It’s official: Indiana’s judicial canons are constitutional and the rules don’t infringe upon a judge or candidate’s free speech rights.

The Supreme Court of the United States issued an order list Monday that shows it had denied a writ of certiorari in the case of Torrey Bauer, et al. v. Randall T. Shepard, et al., No. 10-425. That means U.S. Judge Teresa Springmann’s ruling upholding the canons stands despite a constitutional challenge to the rules most recently revised in 2010.

The Bauer judicial speech case stems from surveys sent out by Indiana Right to Life asking judicial candidates about views on policy and controversial court issues, and some declined to participate because they saw the canons as preventing them from doing so. The conservative group sued in April 2008 on First and 14th Amendment grounds, on behalf of then-judge candidate Torrey Bauer for Kosciusko Superior Court and Marion Superior Judge David Certo, who’s since been elected but at the time was a judicial candidate running for the first time after being appointed by the governor in 2007 to fill a vacancy.

Judge Springmann dismissed the case and upheld the canons, and that led to an interesting 7th Circuit Court of Appeals analysis involving the other case out of Wisconsin that helped it decide the issue. That other case decided in June 2010 was The Hon. John Siefert v. James C. Alexander, et al., No. 09-1713, where it held that Wisconsin couldn’t prevent judges from being members of political parties but it could restrict partisan activities such as endorsing a non-judicial candidate, and personal fundraising. The full 7th Circuit in late August declined to revisit that ruling, though several judges disagreed – including Judge David Hamilton who voted to rehear it and Judge John Tinder who opted with the majority not to reconsider the case. Using its first Siefert decision, a three-judge appellate panel in Bauer affirmed Judge Springmann’s ruling that had dismissed the suit.

Terre Haute attorney James Bopp was the lead attorney on both judicial canons cases, arguing that they had violated the free speech rights of those on or vying for the bench. But the SCOTUS has declined to consider those arguments and this ends the litigation.

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  1. What is this, the Ind Supreme Court thinking that there is a separation of powers and limited enumerated powers as delegated by a dusty old document? Such eighteen century thinking, so rare and unwanted by the elites in this modern age. Dictate to us, dictate over us, the massess are chanting! George Soros agrees. Time to change with times Ind Supreme Court, says all President Snows. Rule by executive decree is the new black.

  2. I made the same argument before a commission of the Indiana Supreme Court and then to the fedeal district and federal appellate courts. Fell flat. So very glad to read that some judges still beleive that evidentiary foundations matter.

  3. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  4. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

  5. I will agree with that as soon as law schools stop lying to prospective students about salaries and employment opportunities in the legal profession. There is no defense to the fraudulent numbers first year salaries they post to mislead people into going to law school.

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