Friday, February 17, 2012

Indiana Week in Review Continues Slide Toward Mediocrity; Panelists Ignore Legal Experts, Declare "No Legal Problem" With Lugar Claiming Residency at Home He Sold 35 Years Ago

Jim Shella
If one wants to know why Indiana Week in Review continues to slide toward mediocrity, I would encourage you to watch this weekend's program.  All the panelists, including Democrat Ann Delaney, declare there is "no legal problem" with Lugar not having a home in Indiana and signing documents under oath that he lives at a home he sold for 35 years ago.

Such an uncontroversial, group-think approach to the issue is not surprising since the panel is led by WISH-TV's Jim Shella who long ago ceased being a serious journalist.

Of course, legal experts disagree with the simplistic conclusion of the IWIR panel, which conclusion is based completely on a 1982 advisory opinion from then Attorney General Linley Pearson.  The United States Constitution requires that a person be an "inhabitant" of the state in order to serve as a U.S. Senator from that State.  A 1995 Supreme Court decision made clear that state law cannot change or supplement a congressional qualification contained in the U.S. Constitution. Thus the 1982 opinion by then Attorney General Linley Pearson citing state law is irrelevant.  That is backed up by John Hill, Professor of Constitutional Law at the Indiana University School of Law- Indianapolis, who is quoted today in a WIBC report:
Lugar's campaign says the issue of Lugar's residency has already been addressed following a 1982 opinion from then-Attorney General Linley Pearson which said that Lugar and other members of Congress are residents of Indiana even though they live in Washington D.C. year-round. John Hill, Professor of Constitutional Law at the I-U Robert H. McKinney School of Law, says the U.S. Constitution says Senators must "inhabit" the state they represent.
"What's interesting is unlike the voting requirements, who gets to vote in the state which are governed by state law, these standards are actually governed by federal law so the Attorney General's opinion is not relevant to this particular question," Hill says.
The United States Senate has the absolute power to determine the qualifications of its members.  Thus, the Senate, controlled narrowly by Democrats, can simply refuse to seat Lugar if he wins the election in November on the basis that Lugar, who admits he has no home in Indiana, is not an "inhabitat" of Indiana. There is nothing a court anywhere could do about that decision. But do you think you'd hear that incredibly important legal point discussed on IWIR?  Of course not.

Although the issue of Lugar's qualifications under the Constitution is a separate issue to voting, I would also point out, as I have before, there is absolutely no exception in Indiana's voter fraud and perjury laws that allows a person to sign documents under oath falsely stating he or she lives someplace the person does not actually live.  Again, that's not a point you will hear on IWIR, which only weeks earlier was bashing Charlie White based on the exact same allegation.

Yes, of course, there is a legal problem.  You can bet on Civil Discourse Now, a show hosted my myself and fellow attorney Mark Small, we would have had a real discussion of the issue, using legal experts who actually knew what they were talking about. It is a shame Indiana Week in Review takes a different approach to discussing the important issues of the day.


AWB said...

Dan Dumezich and his wife Dana have given Lugar $24k since 2000. Greg Zoeller and who later became his wife both worked in Lugar's Washington office. Mitch Daniels, as some say, "cut his political teeth" working for Lugar.

Expect politics as usual.

Diana Vice said...

It's a good thing this story has erupted beyond the Indiana's boundary lines. This just doesn't pass the smell test with average Hoosiers. This story will not die anytime soon despite these people's best efforts.

Nicolas Martin said...

They are sliding away from mediocrity, and not in a good way.

Marycatherine Barton said...

Similar to you, I refuse to call my alma mater, Madoff Law School.

M Theory said...

the iwir poll question indicates this doesn't pass smell test with Hoosiers.

Gary R. Welsh said...

Rex Early had Ann DeLaney pegged. She's the Tokyo Rose of Indiana politics. She knows full well the Democrats are going to sink Lugar over this issue and are already laying in wait to pounce all over him, which they've already exposed by revealing the travel expenditures Lugar makes when he comes back to Indiana. Ketzenberger sold his soul to the devil to get a cushy job he's not qualified to hold. He's running a fiscal policy institute with journalism degree from Ball State.

Paul K. Ogden said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Paul K. Ogden said...

GW, I'd point out JK wasn't on that segment of IWIR. Lesley Weidenbener was filling in for him.