A Judge Will Soon Decide Who Can Call A Special Session

INDIANAPOLIS – A judge should decide in a couple of weeks whether Governor Holcomb can sue over a law letting the General Assembly call itself into session.

Gov Eric Holcomb

Holcomb contends the law is unconstitutional, but that debate can’t begin unless Marion Superior Judge P-J Dietrick rules Holcomb can sue without permission from Attorney General Todd Rokita. State law says the attorney general has the exclusive authority to represent the state in court.

Holcomb’s attorney John Trimble contends Rokita has a built-in conflict of interest, because he’s legally obligated to defend state laws. He calls the law allowing legislators to call their own session to review emergency declarations an unprecedented attack on a governor’s constitutional powers, and says Holcomb has to have legal recourse. He says the law is equivalent to passing a bill letting the attorney general call out the National Guard, then barring the governor from challenging it.

Solicitor General Thomas Fisher argues there are lots of ways to bring a constitutional challenge into court, but a state official has to go through the attorney general. He says that law is on the books precisely to ensure the state speaks with one voice in court. Trimble argues that law applies to state agencies, not the governor.

Dietrick says he won’t let the case “linger too long,” but a decision will take at least two more weeks while lawyers file final briefs.