Gavel Grab

Court Ruling from 2011 Sparks Anti-Retention Push in Indiana

In a rising movement, some activists are calling for Indiana citizens to vote ‘no’ on the retention of state Supreme Court Justice Steven David over a ruling he authored in 2011.

According to the Associated Press, members of the movement, who range from tea party activists to college students to Libertarians, want to see David ousted in response to a 3-2 decision asserting that Indiana residents do not have the right to resist arrest, even if the police are in their home illegally. Critics believe the ruling conflicts with the Fourth Amendment.

Jim Bratten, state coordinator for the Tea Party Patriots, argued that the ruling’s contradiction of the Fourth Amendment is “pretty serious,”  and was “a step too far.”

Indiana lawmakers moved to rewrite the law. In March, Governor Mitch Daniels signed a bill stating that Indiana’s self-defense law protects citizens who “reasonably believe force is necessary to protect themselves, someone else or their own property from unlawful actions by a public servant.”

Political experts say David’s opponents can expect an uphill battle. No Indiana justice has lost a retention election since the state instituted the practice in 1970.

Andy Downs, director of the Mike Downs Center for Indiana Politics at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne, says the single-mindedness of the drive is unusual, but it would have to be an “incredibly well-coordinated campaign” in order to successfully remove David.

Historically, votes in favor of keeping justices on the bench fall around 70 percent, according to Indiana University’s Robert H. McKinney School of Law Professor Joel Schumm.

Schumm says David’s decisions have been “very mainstream, middle of the road” and thinks voters shouldn’t form opinions based on a single ruling. “I hope that people can consider the body of what he’s done.”

For more on the 2011 ruling, see Gavel Grab.

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