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.