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Indiana Senate committee approves resolution calling for rare constitutional convention

An Indiana Senate committee Wednesday approved a proposal calling for a rare constitutional convention to keep the number of Supreme Court justices at nine.

The proposal, Senate Joint Resolution 3, authored by Sen. Jim Buck (above), R-Kokomo, drew skepticism from members of both parties.

Sen. Greg Taylor, D-Indianapolis, and Sen. Timothy Lanane, D-Anderson, were major opponents of the resolution.

“Sen. Buck, it seems like, what do they call that movie, ‘Groundhog Day’? … It seems like I’ve seen this before,” Taylor said.

Taylor and others recalled when previous President Pro Tem Sen. David Long pushed for a constitutional convention.

Buck says he got much of his inspiration for SJR 3 from recordings of former Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg—a famously liberal member of the court. He quoted Ginsburg as saying, “If [the number of court justices] changed higher, you’re running the risk of viewing the court as being politicized.”

Taylor rebutted, saying the resolution itself was political.

“Well, I wish you would quote her more, but here’s the question: I don’t know if you know this, but talking about politicizing the court, [former Supreme Court nominee] Merrick Garland was actually pushed to, or actually chosen by, the president [Barack Obama] to take the seat of Antonin Scalia,” he said.

“And the Republican Party, who controlled the Senate, had that vacancy open for 422 days. Then, when they became the majority in the Senate, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s seat, just quoted, came open, Amy Coney Barrett was confirmed within 37 days. Wasn’t that political?”

Lanane also shared his concerns with the resolution.

“I’m not going to support the resolution, Senator, and it’s not your particular resolution. Our former Pro Tem, Sen. Long, always wanted to have one of these Article 5 conventions, too. And the problem that I see with that is, how do you stop it from becoming what they call the “runaway convention?”

The runaway convention is the fear that if a constitutional convention were to be held, constitutional amendment proposals would become uncontrollable, allowing for government chaos.

Sen. Susan Glick, R-LaGrange, agreed with Buck on the idea of a permanent number of justices but was apprehensive about Indiana going into national territory.

“Sen. Buck, I appreciate your efforts, and I must say that I agree with you. I’d like to see the court remain at nine, simply because I think it’s less political. You can never say that any body politic is not political in this day and age. But I think it’s less political. It is more congenial with a smaller number,” she said.

“But for the same reason, I opposed Sen. Long each and every time he brought forth his resolutions for an Article 5 convention. I don’t believe in a runaway situation,” Glick continued.

“And I believe the political atmosphere in Washington, D.C., and throughout the United States right now would make this the most dangerous thing that could happen, next to the insurrection that tried to take over the capitol of the United States on Jan. 6 of last year. For that reason, I will be opposing the resolution.”

Sen. Aaron Freeman, R-Indianapolis, disagreed with these committee members, stating that the resolution was not political.

“I just disagree with my friends, and Sen. Taylor and I are friends. And I consider that, I just disagree. I don’t think there’s anything about Sen. Buck’s resolution that is political,” he said.

Except for Glick, Republicans on the committee agreed to the resolution, which passed with a vote of 7-4.

Ashlyn Myers and Bessie Kerr are reporters for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.