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Monday, July 27, 2009

Ind. Gov't. - Who should decide Indiana's position on national legal issues? Who should know?

Indiana Legislative Insight had this item in this week's edition:

The State of Indiana joins 32 other states (California also filed separately) in an amicus brief asking the U.S. Supreme Court to grant certiorari in the case of Nat'l Rifle Ass'n v. Chicago, and hold that the Second Amendment applies to state and local governments through the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. This bi-partisan group of attorneys general from 34 states agrees with the National Rifle Association's position that the Second Amendment protects a fundamental individual right to keep and bear arms in the home for self-defense, disagreeing with the ruling by a U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit three-judge panel.
Here is a story from the Austin Business Journal with more information. Some quotes:
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott joined with the attorneys general of 32 other states Tuesday in filing an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court, which the authors say seeks to defend the rights of Americans to keep and bear arms.

The brief supports a legal challenge by Otis McDonald, a community activist who lives in a high-crime neighborhood in Chicago. McDonald’s work to improve his neighborhood has reportedly subjected him to violent threats from drug dealers, but city ordinances prohibit him from obtaining a handgun to protect himself. The state attorneys general argue that cities cannot simply ignore the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and impose a blanket ban on handguns.

“Last year, the Supreme Court of the United States struck down the District of Columbia’s handgun ban and held that the Second Amendment protects individual Americans’ right to keep and bear arms,” Abbott said in a statement. “The brief filed today urges the nation’s highest court to hear community activist Otis McDonald’s challenge to an ordinance that prohibits him from possessing a handgun to protect himself from the criminals he has worked to eradicate from his high-crime neighborhood. Today’s amicus brief reflects an effort...to defend law-abiding Americans’ constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms.”

The story goes on to quote from the amicus brief, then concludes:
The states that joined Texas in the amicus brief are: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wyoming.
This ILB entry from May 19, 2009 is headed "U.S., States Join Lawsuits On Wyeth Drug Sales; Indiana has joined."

And this May 15th ILB entry quoted from a Chicago Tribune story:

NEW ORLEANS - Attorneys general from more than a dozen states asked a federal appeals court in New Orleans this week to review a ruling that they warn could cripple their open meetings laws. * * *

In a court filing Monday, attorneys general for Louisiana and more than a dozen other states joined Abbott in asking for a rehearing by all of the 5th Circuit's judges.

"Subjecting open meetings laws to 'the most stringent review' of strict scrutiny ... is wrong as a matter of precedent and logic," Louisiana Attorney General James "Buddy" Caldwell wrote. "But it would also practically cripple the operation of those laws."

The list of attorneys general who signed onto Caldwell's brief includes those for Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, Nevada, Ohio, South Dakota and Virginia.

Request for Information. I concluded the May 19th entry:

The ILB is looking into whether the Attorney General's office will make available a list of such lawsuits that Indiana's AG has joined.
I wrote to the Attorney General Zoeller's information office the same day, asking:
I've read several national stories lately where Indiana is listed as among the states joining into a lawsuit -- there are two examples in this entry I've just posted:

Can you send me a list of these suits? Better still, broken down into those since Zoeller took office, and those entered into before?

Have you thought about making this available online? I think it is important when the State of Indiana takes a position on a national lawsuit that the public be aware of the suit, and the position of the State. Tracking the outcome would also be important.

I received a positive response. It was even suggested that the results would fall into three categories: (1) Amicus briefs we have written; (2) Amicus briefs we have joined; and (3) "Multistate" lawsuits that are open in which we participate.

I hoped for detailed online tables, linked to the amicus briefs. (Or at least enough information that the ILB could prepare and post tables itself.)

However, as of yet, no actual results. So I was reminded of this request this weekend when both Legislative Insight and the ILB had to look at newspapers outside Indiana for information that the Attorney General has taken a position on the Chicago gun case on behalf of the State of Indiana.

Who should decide Indiana's position on national legal issues? Who should know? These are the questions I posed in the heading to this entry. Some thoughts:

Posted by Marcia Oddi on July 27, 2009 03:20 PM
Posted to Indiana Government