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Monday, August 15, 2016

Ind. Courts - Hamilton Co. judge" to hear conservatives' lawsuit challenging RFRA fix"

This Dec. 10, 2015 ILB post is headed "Lawsuit claims RCRA "fix" and ordinances passed pursuant thereto are invalid." From the post:

Indiana Family Institute, et al v. City of Carmel, et al is a 49-page lawsuit filed today in Hamilton County, by James Madison Center attorney James Bopp, challenging the RFRA "fix" and the ordinances that the cities of Carmel and Indianapolis passed pursuant to the "fix." * * *

Interestingly, although the Attorney General must defend in any lawsuit that challenges the constitutionality of state law, neither the AG nor the State has been made a party to this lawsuit.

From an ILB post later that same day:
Although I was unable to find such a mandate in the Indiana statutes, Attorney General Zoeller himself has written at length about this duty. See this 2015 Indiana Law Journal article by Gregory F. Zoeller, titled "Duty to Defend and the Rule of Law." From p. 515:
[This article] explains the proper role of a state attorney general when a party challenges a state statute. In short, an attorney general owes the state and its citizens, as sovereign, a duty to defend its statutes against constitutional attack except when controlling precedent so overwhelmingly shows that the statute is unconstitutional that no good-faith argument can be made in its defense. To exercise discretion more broadly, and selectively to pick and choose which statutes to defend, only erodes the rule of law.
A section on "Duty to Defend at the State Level" begins on p. 528.
Today the Indianapolis Star has an article by Stephanie Wang on the lawsuit. Some quotes:
Indiana cities, including Indianapolis and Carmel, are pushing back against a lawsuit challenging local ordinances that protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people from discrimination. * * *

The cities named in the lawsuit — Indianapolis, Carmel, Bloomington and Columbus, which have nondiscrimination ordinances that include LGBT protections — have asked a Hamilton Superior Court judge to dismiss the case. A hearing is scheduled for Tuesday morning.

The Indiana Family Institute and American Family Association of Indiana filed the lawsuit last December, seeking to bring back the state's controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act in its original form in order to provide heightened protections for religious rights. Represented by prominent conservative attorney Jim Bopp, the groups want the court to throw out the RFRA "fix." * * *

In its response filed in court, the city of Indianapolis said the American Family Association has not been the subject of any complaints or investigations since the city's nondiscrimination ordinance was last amended in 2008.

The other cities say that the groups do not conduct business within their boundaries. They also say the groups are unlikely to be affected by nondiscrimination ordinances, because they do not employ enough workers to be subjected to an ordinance or their programs are not open to the public.

The conservative groups say they are posing a pre-enforcement challenge. They want to conduct voter education throughout the state, and their events are open to the public, even though they target evangelical Christians.

The cities also point out that the conservative groups did not sue the state, even though they are challenging a state law — "puzzling," they wrote in court documents.

That may allude to the politics behind it all. Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller, a Republican, has in the past fought to defend the state's ban on same-sex marriages. Republican Gov. Mike Pence also has opposed same-sex marriage and sided with religious rights over LGBT rights. [ILB: Emphasis added]

Pence, who often says he considers his evangelical Christian background essential to his politics and policies, was a close ally to the conservative groups as they lobbied for RFRA. Indiana Family Institute President Curt Smith and American Family Association of Indiana Executive Director Micah Clark posed for a photo with Pence when he signed RFRA into law.

The hearing on the motion to dismiss is scheduled for 9 a.m. Tuesday in Hamilton Superior Court, 1 Hamilton Square, Room 345, Noblesville. The hearing may be rescheduled because of an ongoing bench trial in the courtroom of Judge Steven Nation, who is assigned to the case.

[More] Here is the IFI's amended verified complaint, fled Jan. 25, 2016.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on August 15, 2016 08:06 AM
Posted to Indiana Courts