INDIANAPOLIS -- Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita filed a writ of mandamus directly with the Indiana Supreme Court today-- an attempt to bypass a trial court that has ruled against him.
A narrow category of cases may be filed directly with the Supreme Court, and the attorney general's office is arguing that some of the issues raised in Gov. Eric Holcomb's lawsuit meet that standard, a news release said.
“We are asking the Supreme Court to stop the executive branch power grab underway by preserving the constitutional protections that are meant to preserve Hoosiers' individual liberty and that have served Indiana well for more than 100 years,” Rokita said.
“Allowing the Governor's lawsuit to continue confers power on the judiciary, the branch of government that, by design, is least representative of the people. This power grab by the Governor and the authority it would give to the courts to interfere with political decisions should scare us all.”
Holcomb sued the Indiana General Assembly after it passed a bill allowing lawmakers to call themselves in for a special session during future emergencies. But the Indiana Constitution gives that power to the governor. Holcomb alleges that House Enrolled Act 1123 is unconstitutional.
Rokita has tried to stop the suit on grounds that Holcomb can't sue without the attorney heneral's permission. A Marion County judge ruled against that argument and denied a petition for an interlocutory appeal to the Indiana Court of Appeals.
A hearing is scheduled for Sept. 10 on the merits of the case -- whether the legislature overstepped its constitutional powers.
Rokita's office argues that going directly to the Indiana Supreme Court now should help save taxpayers from costly litigation at the lower-court level on a case that will likely end up before the Supreme Court anyway.
“The Attorney General's Office was created to enable the state to speak with one voice on legal matters,” he said. “The reasons are straightforward: allowing the branches to sue one another, or individual office holders to do the same, whenever they want, will add significant costs for taxpayers as well as create confusing and unsettled policies for all Hoosiers.”