Inside Indiana Business
INDIANAPOLIS – The Indiana Supreme Court has issued an order allowing a lawsuit filed by Governor Eric Holcomb over a bill concerning emergency powers to continue.
By a 4-1 vote, the court upheld a previous ruling rejecting Attorney General Todd Rokita’s claim that only he could file a lawsuit on behalf of the state.
Earlier this year, the Indiana General Assembly passed House Enrolled Act 1123, which gives the legislature the ability to call itself into a special session to review emergency orders. The bill was vetoed by Holcomb, a move that was overridden by legislators.
In April, Holcomb filed the lawsuit against Republican legislative leaders, arguing the Indiana Constitution gives the him the sole power to call a special session.
Holcomb is being represented by John Trimble, a former president of the Indianapolis Bar Association, instead of the attorney general.
Last month, Marion County Superior Court Judge Patrick Dietrick also rejected Rokita’s claim, saying the governor is able to hire outside counsel; he cited a state statute that was enacted prior to the creation of the attorney general’s office.
Rokita also argues that the lawsuit should not be allowed to go forward because the Indiana General Assembly is still technically in session.
“The plain text of both the Indiana Constitution and state statute requires postponement of any lawsuit during a session so that lawmakers may focus their attention on the legislative process. Ignoring that protection sets a dangerous legal precedent, seemingly inconsistent with the rule of law,” Rokita said in a news release. “Unfortunately, the court did not give a reason for its decision, which was not unanimous. My office looks forward to debating the merits of the case.”
The lawsuit seeks a declaratory judgment saying key provisions of the law are unconstitutional and a permanent injunction to prevent them from being used.