Indiana News

Indiana Will File Friend-of-the-Court Brief in Same-Sex Marriage Case

Zoeller plans renewed legislative push against bath salts, sex predators


Attorney General Greg Zoeller ( photo: Eric Berman)

Indiana will wade into another national legal debate next year, urging the Supreme Court to uphold state bans on same-sex marriage.

Indiana joined the lawsuit against the federal health care law, and filed a friend-of-the-court brief supporting Arizona's right to pass an immigration law. The state ended up on the losing side of both those cases, but Attorney General Greg Zoeller says the one argument Indiana insisted on in the health-care case was the one piece of the law the Supreme Court threw out: the government's attempt to cut off Medicaid funds to states which didn't agree to expand the program.

Zoeller says what Chief Justice John Roberts called a "gun to the head" approach to federal funding is a violation of state sovereignty. He says he'll make the same argument against federal interference in state affairs in a friend-of-the-court brief in the marriage case. Zoeller says he's not arguing either side of the marriage question itself -- only that states have the right to decide for themselves whether to legalize or ban same-sex marriages.

The House and Senate are expected to complete legislative approval of a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage in Indiana in the upcoming session, sending it to voters for a final decision in 2014. Zoeller says he won't disclose any advice he's given legislative leaders about the potential impact of a Supreme Court ruling.

Zoeller says he'll ask legislators next year to make a third attempt at outlawing "bath salts," the assortment of drugs sold over-the-counter which mimic marijuana and other illegal substances. Past attempts to ban the drugs have struggled to keep pace with ever-shifting chemical formulas for the drugs. Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry has countered by charging some store owners under Indiana's lookalike drug law. Zoeller has backed Curry's efforts, but says he'll ask legislators to amend the law to make Curry's legal argument ironclad.

The newly-reelected attorney general says he'll also open new fronts on child protection in 2013. This year, legislators rammed through a toughened human-trafficking law Zoeller requested in advance of the Super Bowl in Indianapolis. Zoeller says at least six people have been charged under that law. He says his office will work in 2013 to improve the state's sex-offender registry, to collaborate with police task forces which monitor Internet predators, and take over appellate work for the state's Department of Child Services.


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