What can the Legislature do?
An opinion piece on Barnes v. State of Indiana
I have received many calls, emails and letters regarding the recent ruling handed down by the Indiana Supreme Court on the case Barnes v. the State of Indiana. The numerous letters have focused on how this ruling will affect citizens and what I intend to do as a legislator to ensure Hoosiers' constitutional rights are not infringed upon.
I, too, am concerned about the impact of this verdict and how it will shape the interpretation of our Fourth Amendment right. In my opinion, this ruling sets a precedent that is misguided and too broad. This decision needs to be either readdressed by the court or addressed by the General Assembly.
This ruling did not come about by any legislative action, but was handed down by our judicial branch. Our powers are separated into three branches; Legislative (which I fall into), Executive, and Judicial. These powers are separated as a protection, which means the legislature had no control over the judicial branch.
However, what it does allow us to do is to potentially address this issue through our branch of government when the legislature goes back into session this January. But we aren't just waiting around for January to come.
The Speaker has announced that this case will be studied by legislators this summer in a Legislative Council Subcommittee. Here, the case will be examined in detail and will allow the legislators who serve on the subcommittee to develop solutions to this issue to recommend to the General Assembly when we go back into session.
An amicus brief has also been sent to the court by members of the General Assembly asking them to reconsider their ruling. This would be the quickest remedy for this matter. If there is not a resolution at the judicial level, I hope that legislation will be drafted in 2012 to address this issue
I feel passionate about our right to an unobtrusive government and I will work hard to ensure your right against unlawful search and seizure is protected. I take protecting our constitutional rights very seriously and will work to guard those rights in any way possible.
I appreciate you taking the time to contact me and urge you to continue to do so. I am committed to addressing this problem in the coming weeks and months and will keep you up-to-date on all actions taken by the legislature in regards to this subject.