Casino-revenues case reversed

Keywords neglect

The Indiana Supreme Court has dodged a question about whether state lawmakers should be able to cram multiple unrelated issues into a single piece of legislation, leaving in place what some call the practice of “legislative logrolling” that hasn’t been specifically shot down in almost four decades.

Finding focus in laws IL Oct. 28- Nov. 10, 2009

In a nine-page ruling May 18 in Foundations of East Chicago v. City of East Chicago, No. 49S02-0908-CV-00383, the justices ruled on a case involving a casino-revenue agreement in East Chicago. Marion Superior Judge S.K. Reid had ruled for the city and found the nonprofit Foundations of East Chicago didn’t have standing to sue, and the Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed that judgment in a divided April 2009 opinion. But the lower appellate court declined to answer the question about statute constitutionality, and justices accepted transfer.

Justices reversed the holding on the standing issue, but affirmed the remaining parts of the judgment while avoiding the constitutional questions about logrolling and other issues.

“A number of these may be plausible,” Chief Justice Randall T. Shepard wrote, citing the constitutional questions about taking private property without just compensation, requiring bills to be confined to a single subject, constraints against special or local legislation, and separation of powers principles. “Still, we avoid constitutional declarations when a dispute can be resolved through non-constitutional means. For all that appears, Section 302 did not alter the legal options of the combating parties in any substantial way, and we thus conclude that a constitutional declaration is unwarranted.”

Reviewing Section 302 of the budget bill that became Indiana Code §4-33-6-7 (2008), the justices determined the provision didn’t change the gaming commission’s ability to regulate the license details: “we see no impairment of contractual rights presenting a colorable alarm under the applicable state or federal provisions,” Chief Justice Shepard wrote.

On the issue of whether the Foundations is able to receive funds under the gaming license as the two nonprofit predecessors did, the justices left that open as an administrative law matter the gaming commission should decide. But the Foundations does have a sufficient interest as a party in this litigation in that it was receiving money through the arrangement, and that gives the organization standing in this case.

Please enable JavaScript to view this content.

{{ articles_remaining }}
Free {{ article_text }} Remaining
{{ articles_remaining }}
Free {{ article_text }} Remaining Article limit resets on
{{ count_down }}