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Hearing set on whether Gov. Holcomb may sue Indiana's Legislature

Attorney General Todd Rokita, also a Republican, has argued he has the authority to stop Holcomb from taking the dispute to court.
Credit: AP Photo/Darron Cummings
Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb delivers his State of the State address virtually, Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021, in Indianapolis.

INDIANAPOLIS — A judge will hear arguments later this month over whether Indiana’s governor can go ahead with a lawsuit challenging the power state legislators have given themselves to intervene during public emergencies. 

Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb asked a judge in April to block the new law passed by the GOP-dominated Legislature following criticism from many conservatives over COVID-19 restrictions that Holcomb imposed. 

Attorney General Todd Rokita, also a Republican, has argued he has the authority to stop Holcomb from taking the dispute to court.

Marion County Judge Patrick Dietrick on Thursday set a hearing about that dispute for June 16.

It's a tangled legal battle around a bill that would give the General Assembly authority to call for a special session to deal with a state of emergency. Currently, only the governor can convene a special session. The bill passed both chambers of the Legislature, but Holcomb vetoed it. Then, state lawmakers overrode the governor's veto. Thus, the bill became a law. 

In response, Holcomb sued the state legislature. The lawsuit argues that the legislature is "usurping a power given exclusively to the governor" under the state constitution to call lawmakers into a special session.  

That is when Rokita entered the legal battle. 

The attorney general was quick to ask the court to strike down the lawsuit insisting that his office should resolve the dispute between two branches of state government. Some legal experts have questioned legal arguments that Rokita has filed asking a judge to throw out the governor's lawsuit because state law gives him alone the authority to determine whether the governor can even go to court.