Gov. Eric Holcomb’s lawsuit against the Indiana General Assembly is moving forward, but over the continuing resistance of Attorney General Todd Rokita.
In April, Holcomb (above) filed the lawsuit against the General Assembly in Marion County court over what he calls the unconstitutionality of House Enrolled Act 1123. The now law allows the General Assembly to call itself into an emergency session and enact legislation.
Holcomb claims that HEA 1123 violates the separation of powers as described in the Indiana Constitution. In the lawsuit, Holcomb said that “the General Assembly has impermissibly attempted to give itself the ability to call special sessions, thereby usurping a power given exclusively to the governor.”
In May, Rokita said the Office of the Indiana Attorney General is the one to resolve disputes between branches. As a response to Holcomb’s lawsuit, Rokita filed a motion in Marion Superior Court to stop the suit.
In a ruling issued over the weekend, Marion Superior Judge Patrick Dietrick rejected the arguments from Rokita, allowing Holcomb’s suit to continue, with the next hearing in September.
On Tuesday, Rokita’s office announced it will appeal the decision to the Indiana Supreme Court. According to the statement, establishing who has authority to represent the legal interest of Indiana “is an issue of fundamental importance to the operation of Indiana Government.”
“The Attorney General’s Office has fought for the liberties of the people of Indiana for decades, using the very same precedents this court has now upended,” said Rokita in a statement Tuesday.
“The constitution belongs not to the Governor, the legislature, or the Attorney General, but to the people of Indiana. If left unchallenged, the court’s order in this case threatens to tip the balance of powers and undermine the individual liberties of the citizens of this state. As such, we have filed an appeal in the interest of protecting Hoosiers.”
Holcomb declined further comment, but Joe Heerens, general counsel in the governor’s office, said the decision of the judge will allow the lawsuit to move forward.
“The outcome is important for Gov. Holcomb and how future governors who operate in times of emergency,” Heerens said.
Carolina Puga Mendoza is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.