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Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller

The curious case of the oddly silent attorney general

Attorney General Greg Zoeller has never been shy.

He regularly comments on cases, files briefs in cases around the nation and issues a ton of press releases about office activities.

But since a federal judge struck down Indiana’s marriage ban last Wednesday he has been unusually quiet. His office issued several press releases explaining the process but they lacked any quotes from Zoeller.

Instead, they directed media to quote a spokesman instead.

Compare that to March 2013 when Zoeller distributed an op-ed piece to newspapers on his obligation to defend the state’s authority to define marriage.

Then on March 7, 2014 – when the gay marriage suit was filed – Zoeller promised to defend the statute.

“People of goodwill have sincere differences of opinion on the marriage definition, but I hope Hoosiers can remain civil to each other as this legal question is litigated in the federal court,” Zoeller said.

Then on March 13, Zoeller had another quote saying, “when plaintiffs who disagree with an Indiana statute file a challenge in court, I have a duty as Indiana’s Attorney General to defend our state and the statute the Legislature passed to the best of my skill and ability – and will do so here, both now and on any appeal.”

But in April when a temporary restraining order was issued, a news release was sent but included nothing from Zoeller.

Again on May 2 after a hearing on the suit, nothing from Zoeller.

When the TRO was extended, nothing from Zoeller.

When the ruling came down, no quote from Zoeller.

When the stay was announced, nothing from Zoeller.

This week when issuing guidance to clerks, no quotes from Zoeller.

In the meantime, he had spoken in press releases about a tobacco settlement and winning a cold beer lawsuit.

It was so perplexing, the Journal Gazette tweeted about the missing-in-action Attorney General on Monday.

Within two hours, a two-paragraph response to an emergency appeal for a dying woman in a same-sex marriage was released from the attorney general’s office.

In it, bold lettering announced that Zoeller made the following statement.

“The State has extensively researched this matter and sincerely wishes it found a provision within our State’s statutes that would allow for some extraordinary relief, or humanitarian exception to the rule of law that would grant what petitioners request. If this Court can find an exception that would apply, this circumstance surely warrants its use.”

nkelly@jg.net

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