Indiana Supreme Court upholds fines in 2011 Democratic walkout

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INDIANAPOLIS – When Democrats walked out of the legislative session in 2011, they were fined. Now—after a protracted legal fight—the Indiana Supreme Court says those fines will stick.

In a 3-2 split decision handed down Tuesday, the court found that the constitutional separation of powers prevents the court from interceding. In the majority opinion, Chief Justice Brent Dickson wrote that to intervene would be inappropriate.

“We will not involve the courts in such inherently internal matters of the legislative branch,” Dickson wrote. “The case before us involves such nonjusticiable claims for relief on which the judicial branch must decline to pass judgment… Both the issuance and collection of fines as legislative discipline are functions constitutionally committed to the legislative branch without express limitation or qualification by our Constitution.”

Justices Loretta Rush and Robert Rucker dissented. In their opinions, they questioned whether imposing fines by withholding pay was within the scope of the law.

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