Pharos-Tribune

Opinion

June 22, 2014

ZOELLER: Filing amicus briefs gives Indiana a voice in court

The United States Supreme Court and federal appeals courts decide important cases impacting the constitutional rights of everyone, the responsibilities of businesses toward consumers and the relationship between government and citizens. States such as Indiana have a stake in these questions, but how do states make their legal arguments known to the Supreme Court if they are not plaintiffs or defendants in the lawsuit the Court hears?

The answer is that Indiana and other states file amicus briefs, also called friend-of-the-court briefs, with the Supreme Court and federal appellate courts. If not a party to the lawsuit, a state can submit an amicus brief, a thoroughly researched legal document explaining the state’s interest in the case and legal argument for the judges to consider as they formulate their ruling.

As state government’s lawyer, I don’t make the laws but I have an obligation to defend the laws passed by the people’s elected representatives in the Legislature. My office defends Indiana statutes from current legal challenges in court, but we also must anticipate future challenges. By participating in amicus briefs in other states’ lawsuits, we both sharpen Indiana’s legal arguments in preparation for our own later cases and ensure that our views are understood by the judges who create the precedents that may guide – or even control – our future cases. Filing amicus briefs to explain a state’s legal interests is intrinsic to the job description of a state attorney general.

Cooperating with AG’s offices in other states, my office since January 2009 has authored or co-authored 29 amicus briefs that other states joined, or signed on to; and we joined another 113 briefs that other states authored. Of the briefs Indiana participated in at the U.S. Supreme Court, 34 were filed at the “cert petition” stage, where justices consider whether to accept an appeal from a lower court; and another 79 were filed at the “merits” stage after the Court accepted a case. The rest were filed with other courts.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Opinion
  • Holly Sklar SKLAR: Small businesses want minimum wage increase If Congress actually listened to small business owners, the minimum wage would be going up. Instead, July 24 will mark five years without an increase since the federal minimum wage was set at $7.25 an hour in 2009.Small business livelihoods depend on

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • KITCHELL: Reaction times change, but motorists don't Earlier this year, I came home one afternoon to find the worst accident on North Street I can ever recall.A bevy of police cars and four flatbed trucks were removing the pawns in an accident that damaged four vehicles. It was a bit unusual considerin

    July 23, 2014

  • OUR VIEW: Keeping insects under control curbs disease State health officials said last week mosquitoes in two northern Indiana counties tested positive for the West Nile virus, The Associated Press reported.The state health department said mosquitoes in Marshall and Pike counties were confirmed to have

    July 23, 2014

  • THEIR VIEW: Indiana's ethics laws in need of reform The Indiana State Ethics Commission’s recent approval of an agreement between the state inspector general and Tony Bennett settles the charges against the former state superintendent of schools.But the settlement raises more concerns about the loopho

    July 22, 2014

  • MARCUS: Tax simplification is no simple matter The governor and his select invitees to his closed tax conference last month praised simplifying Indiana’s tax code. It is an idea better loved by Americans than baseball, apple, pie or motherhood.There is no question that our national and state tax

    July 22, 2014

  • VILLAGE IDIOT: The sheer dumbness of an enormous dome There is a TV series about an entire town trapped under a giant, mysterious crystal-clear dome that appears out of the blue one day. The dome is impenetrable; no one can get in, no one can get out. Who made the dome? Aliens? God? A super-secret branc

    July 22, 2014

  • HAYDEN: Road to funding Indiana highways jammed If you’ve driven on either of Indiana’s two busiest interstates recently, you’ll understand why a blue-ribbon commission last week called for adding traffic lanes to those harrowing highways.The report, issued by the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Panel on T

    July 21, 2014

  • LYONS: When academic committees play 'police' If one believes even a significant fraction of the horror stories in the national news media, beastly male behavior has become almost epidemic on American college campuses. Tales of drunken sexual assaults and worse multiply from sea to shining sea.E

    July 21, 2014

  • CEPEDA: Hispanic women flock to the movies My family attended the first morning screening of “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes,” which won last weekend’s box office with a $73 million debut.According to Lucas Shaw’s recent article “Hispanic Women Are This Summer’s Most Avid Moviegoers” on the e

    July 20, 2014

  • thelma CONRAD: A true Lincoln original The Cass County Historical Society has had in its possession for many decades several documents containing the signature of President Abraham Lincoln. The society never doubted the authenticity of the signature, given the fact that most of the first

    July 20, 2014 1 Photo

Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Poll

The Pence administration continues to cut Indiana agency budgets despite a state surplus of $2 billion. Is this wise management of state funds?

Yes
No
Not sure
     View Results
Featured Ads
AP Video
Judge Ponders Overturning Colo. Gay Marriage Ban Airlines Halt Travel to Israel Amid Violence NYPD Chief Calls for 'use of Force' Retraining VA Nominee McDonald Goes Before Congress Bush: Don't Worry, Sugarland Isn't Breaking Up US Official: Most Migrant Children to Be Removed Police Probing Brooklyn Bridge Flag Switch CDC Head Concerned About a Post-antibiotic Era Raw: First Lady Says `Drink Up' More Water Courts Conflicted Over Healthcare Law Holder Urges Bipartisanship on Immigration Raw: Truck, Train Crash Leads to Fireball US Airlines Cancel Israel Flights Obama Signs Workforce Training Law Crash Victims' Remains Reach Ukraine-held City Diplomatic Push Intensifies to End War in Gaza Cat Fans Lap Up Feline Film Festival Michigan Plant's Goal: Flower and Die Veteran Creates Job During High Unemployment
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.