Tuesday, February 23, 2016

House Won't Even Hold a Hearing on Hate Crimes Bill--Too Busy!

You might have thought that after the Republican Supermajority opted not to protect the civil rights of LGBT Hoosiers they might have offered the consolation of a hate crimes bill as another form of protection. After all, Indiana is one of only five states without a hate crimes bill. The bill put before them did not define a new category of crimes, but only gave judges discretion to add some severity to sentencing in cases where the crime was based on the victim’s characteristics, such as age, race, sexual orientation or gender identity. And the bill even sailed through the Republican-dominated senate. You might have thought that would be a reasonable bill for the House to pass to help restore some of Indiana's tattered reputation as a tolerant place, but you would have been so wrong! House Chairman Rep. Tom Washburne, R-Evansville, says his committee is just too busy: "With 20 bills in Courts and Criminal, I just had to make a decision about which ones we could hear and which ones we wouldn’t hear.” Maybe they'll be less busy next year. You can read more here.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Indiana's Two Senators on Replacing Justice Scalia; Who's the Constitutionalist Here?

Indiana's two senators hold very different views of how the replacement of Justicice Scalia should be accomplished. As reported by Terre Haute Trune Star, Republican Senator Dan Coats says, “Our country is in the middle of a highly consequential presidential election. The American people should determine their next Supreme Court justice by their votes in November.” It is worth noting that the American people voted twice to give Barack Obama the constitutional authority to name Supreme Court justices by voting for him for president. Coats goes on to suggest that the Presiendent has somehow disqualified himself from that constitutional authority: “I think this president has disqualified himself from nominating someone. Yes, he has that right, but for someone who has blatantly broken the constitutional power and, it has been so blatant, it just adds to the political motivation. He’s not going to send someone up there that has an objective that we can trust.” Setting aside his specious claim about the President's blatant disregard of Constitutional law that he taught at the University of Chicago, we'd note that the President's previous two Supreme Court nominees had bipartisan support and have been well regarded as jurists.

On the other hand, Democrat Joe Donnelly calls on the Senate to "fulfill its Constitutional duty." In the interview below he says, “Filling the position is the constitutional obligation of the president. I expect that President Obama will bring forth a nominee and my constitutional obligation is to review that nomination, to ask questions and vote on it. I plan to do my job.”

Which of these positions adheres better the Constitution that Justice Scalia spent his career defending as he thought appropriate?

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Two Democrats Announce Runs for District 26

We're fortunate to have not one but two Democrats running to represent Indiana House District 26--Vicky Saker Woeste and Deanna McMillan. Below is video Woeste's announcement and Channel 18 coverage of McMillan's announcement.