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Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Ind. Gov't. - Gov. joins suit against President Barack Obama over immigration, but AG Zoeller will not participate

Maureen Groppe of Gannett reported this afternoon:

Indiana is challenging President Barack Obama’s steps to protect about 5 million undocumented immigrants from being deported — but the state’s attorney general is handing off the case.

Gov. Mike Pence, a Republican, announced Wednesday that he directed Attorney General Greg Zoeller to join a multistate lawsuit led by Texas to stop the Obama administration’s executive actions.

Zoeller, also a Republican, countered that he is granting consent for the governor to hire outside counsel.

Zoeller’s spokesman said that although the attorney general’s office usually represents the state government in lawsuits, state officeholders or agencies may “make a specific policy request for legal representation that can most effectively be provided through using outside counsel.”

“State statute permits state entities to hire outside counsel with the attorney general’s consent, and our office agrees that using outside counsel at the trial court level is appropriate in this lawsuit,” said spokesman Bryan Corbin.

Corbin referred questions about the cost of the outside counsel to the governor’s office and declined to say whether the move means Zoeller disagrees with the suit.

Zoeller said in his letter to Pence that he shares Pence’s “concerns about the unilateral executive action to address matters entrusted to Congress and the resulting impact on Indiana.”

Here is the Governor's letter to the Attorney General today, it ends with:
While we have previously had informal discussions about Indiana joining this lawsuit, I am formally directing you to use any and all legal means necessary to represent the State of Indiana as a plaintiff in the suit being filed by the State of Texas today.
Here is the Attorney General's formal response, which states in part:
Pursuant to my authority under Ind. Code 4-6-5-3, I am hereby providing consent for the Governor's Office to hire Peter Rusthoven and Joe Chapelle from Barnes & Thornburg as outside counsel to appear as counsel for the State in the Texas litigation and provide representation as appropriate in relation to the case. Consistent with other authorizations to hire outside counsel to represent the state, please note that this consent to hire outside counsel does not serve as consent for settlement or appeal of the lawsuit, which can be addressed later as necessary and appropriate through additional requests for consent.
The latest issue of Indiana Legislative Insight reported nearly a week ago:
Nineteen Republican attorneys general and attorneys general-elect released a joint statement through the Republican Attorney Generals Association regarding the President’s immigration proposals, asserting that “The President cannot ignore the American people, the states or an entire branch of government.” They said that as lead attorney for their states, “we are committed to the rule of law and ensuring that we remain a nation of laws, enacted as prescribed by our Constitution .... As attorneys general we will uphold our constitutional oath to take whatever actions may be appropriate to uphold the rule of law.”

Attorney General Greg Zoeller (R), was conspicuous by his absence from the statement. You may recall that General Zoeller incurred the wrath of some Senate Republicans for opting against defending parts of Indiana’s recent immigration law after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling likely rendered components unconstitutional, and he joined national bipartisan efforts to promote reasonable immigration reform, specifically labeling it a national, and not a state, matter.

The AG’s spokesman, Bryan Corbin, explains to us that “The Attorney General sees his official role as being nonpartisan and does not want to speak with a partisan political voice except during his own campaign. Attorney General Zoeller is co-authoring a forthcoming letter to Congress from a bipartisan group of state AGs, under the auspices of the National Association of Attorneys General, urging congressional action on immigration. AG Zoeller’s focus is on speaking as legal representative of a state through an official letter, and the RAGA press statement did not provide that opportunity.”

Posted by Marcia Oddi on December 3, 2014 07:12 PM
Posted to Indiana Government