The Office of the Indiana Attorney General today filed papers directly with the Indiana Supreme Court to stop some of the gubernatorial overreach manifested in the Holcomb v. Bray lawsuit, in which the Governor is suing the Indiana legislature because it overrode his veto of a duly passed and now enacted piece of legislation while that body is still in session conducting business.
“We are asking the Supreme Court to stop the executive branch power grab underway by preserving the constitutional protections that are meant to preserve Hoosiers’ individual liberty and that have served Indiana well for more than 100 years,” said Attorney General Todd Rokita. “Allowing the Governor’s lawsuit to continue confers power on the judiciary, the branch of government that, by design, is least representative of the people. This power grab by the Governor and the authority it would give to the courts to interfere with political decisions should scare us all.”
The implications of the court’s decision in this case will extend far beyond the current news cycle, and on behalf of all of the state’s clients, the people of Indiana, the hundreds of cases that rely on the same precedents, and to keep power in check and costs low, the Office of the Attorney General will continue to fight this battle. This approach should also help save the taxpayers from costly litigation at the lower court level on a case that will likely end up before the Supreme Court anyway.
“The Attorney General’s Office was created to enable the state to speak with one voice on legal matters,” said Attorney General Rokita. “The reasons are straightforward: allowing the branches to sue one another, or individual office holders to do the same, whenever they want, will add significant costs for taxpayers as well as create confusing and unsettled policies for all Hoosiers.”
The office’s petition for writ of mandamus comes after a Marion County court ruled the Governor’s lawsuit may continue in his court and denying the Office of the Attorney General’s request to make a preliminary appeal of all the issues raised to date.
Pursuant to the lower court’s order, however, the attorneys of the Office of the Attorney General have modified their representation of the parties to exclude the Governor and will continue to take up that issue through the regular appellate process, should that be necessary. The Office of the Attorney General maintains that the trial court’s order violates Indiana statutes specifically enacted for the situation before it. By statute, the Office of the Attorney General is authorized to represent all state elected public officials in court, so there is no conflict under the Court’s Professional Rules of Conduct, which are subject to Indiana statutes. A petition for writ of mandamus is filed directly with the Supreme Court, rather than a typical appeal working its way up through the lower courts leading to the Supreme Court. A narrow category of cases may be filed directly with the Supreme Court, and the Attorney General’s Office is arguing that some of the issues raised in the Governor’s lawsuit meet that standard