Court denies Rokita request to fast-track appeal over abortion ban injunction

Keywords Appeal / Law / Todd Rokita

The Indiana Court of Appeals on Tuesday rejected a request from Attorney General Todd Rokita to fast-track his appeal of the pause on the state’s near-total abortion ban.

A three-judge panel unanimously denied the request without further explanation.

Rokita, a Republican, asked the Appeals Court to set aside a preliminary injunction issued by a lower court last week, which temporarily blocks enforcement of Indiana’s abortion ban while the matter continues to play out in court.

Judge Kelsey Blake Hanlon, of Owen County, issued the injunction Thursday in a lawsuit that seeks to strike down Indiana’s near-total abortion ban. The court order from Hanlon, a Republican, halted the state’s new abortion law one week after it took effect. Under the injunction, the state’s previous abortion law stands — allowing abortions up to 20 weeks.

The state attorney general’s office on Friday appealed Hanlon’s ruling and argued that the appellate court “should not further postpone the resolution of an issue of immense legal, political, and practical significance to the State and its people.”

Lawyers representing the state are hoping to advance the issue straight to the Indiana Supreme Court.

The court challenge up for debate was filed in Monroe County Circuit Court last month by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Indiana on behalf of health care providers and a pregnancy resource center.

They argue that the abortion ban blocks patients from exercising a “fundamental right to privacy,” which the Indiana Constitution protects as an individual liberty. The Supreme Court of the United States in June ruled that the U.S. Constitution does not guarantee abortion rights.

The court set an Oct. 3 deadline for the ACLU of Indiana to respond to the state’s appeal.

Indiana Capital Chronicle is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Indiana Capital Chronicle maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Niki Kelly for questions: Follow Indiana Capital Chronicle on Facebook and Twitter.

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8 thoughts on “Court denies Rokita request to fast-track appeal over abortion ban injunction

  1. Todd Rokita is a joke of a politician who has committed a litany of ethics violations during his time in office. If the voters actually took the time to learn about the candidates and their principles, this man would have never been elected in the first place. I hope he gets his butt handed to him by the Indiana Supreme Court.

  2. This is not the first time that Todd Rokita has used questionable judgment in the performance of his duties as attorney general.
    A little more than a week ago, a legal brief that Rokita signed on to had nothing at all to say about the legal issues raised, ostensibly filed in support of former president Donald Trump’s idiosyncratic challenge to the August 8 search of his Mar-a-Lago property.
    Instead, over 10 pages of what might be called “argument,” the brief offered a laundry list of political complaints about the Biden administration — all of which, the brief argued, should lead courts to doubt federal government claims. As a rant masquerading as a legal filing, it was unbecoming of any lawyer. As a brief signed by the attorneys general of nearly a dozen U.S. states, it was indefensible.
    The actual issue before the 11th Circuit last week was whether the federal government was entitled to a partial stay of an injunction entered by Judge Aileen Cannon — which had blocked the Justice Department’s access to documents seized during the Aug. 8 search as part of an ongoing criminal investigation. The government responded that it only needed access to roughly 100 documents with classified markings on them, and in a thorough (and analytically devastating) 29-page opinion, the three court of appeals judges (two of whom were appointed by Trump) unanimously sided with the federal government.
    The brief Rokita signed on to didn’t acknowledge the underlying dispute; it offered no argument in defense of the merits of Judge Cannon’s decision (or of Trump’s conduct); indeed, the word “classified” didn’t even appear once in the entire filing. In the “interest of amici curiae” section, which is where the brief should explain the connection between the friends of the court and the underlying dispute, the brief went full Fox News and framed the purpose of the brief as highlighting “how the Administration’s conduct in connection with this case is of a piece with the gamesmanship and other questionable conduct that have become the hallmarks of its litigating, policy-making, and public-relations efforts. At a minimum, this Court should view the Administration’s assertions of good-faith, neutrality, and objectivity through jaundiced eyes.”
    Aside from confusing “jaundiced” with “jaded,” there were only three problems with this argument. First, it’s nonsense. The “questionable conduct” to which the brief objected is ordinary litigation and regulatory behavior by the executive branch with which Rokita just happens to disagree.
    The second example — the Biden administration’s efforts to roll back a controversial Trump-era immigration policy — is, again, something every administration does. Rokita is just mad that it succeeded. And so on. The entire brief was basically a laundry list of policy disputes between red states and the federal government, not evidence that the Biden administration has done anything unlawful or illegitimate. If these kinds of policy disputes are reason enough for a group of states to challenge the legitimacy of any representations by the executive branch going forward, we might as well give up on ever allowing the executive branch to do anything again.
    Second, this argument was irrelevant. Even taken at face value, none of the brief’s critiques of the Biden administration’s behavior has anything to do with the federal agency actually involved in the Mar-a-Lago case — the FBI. Consider the paragraph on page 9 that went off on whether the federal government funded any of the research at the lab in Wuhan from which Covid-19 apparently originated. Never mind that any such funding would have long pre-dated the Biden administration; the brief didn’t even try to connect those Covid claims to whether FBI agents acted appropriately at Mar-a-Lago.
    In the end, Rokita’s signing on to the brief didn’t matter. The 11th Circuit emphatically sided with the federal government — and against Trump and Judge Cannon. Its opinion never specifically acknowledges that the chief law enforcement officers of 11 different states had the temerity to file such a brief. But while the brief didn’t impact the outcome of the appeal, it should not be ignored.
    Finally, Rokita isn’t just partisan political officials; he is an officer of the court and should’ve known better. He could – and – should – face disciplinary consequences for his reckless use of frivolous lawsuits to hype his political stature.

    1. This is an amazing analysis of everything wrong with that filing that Rokita made on behalf of all of us citizens of Indiana in support of Donald Trump’s theft of government documents. But for anyone who doesn’t have time to read all of this great analysis from Brent, I would highlight one overarching point. It isn’t just that it was a horrific filing in terms of the law, or its abuse of the English language. The overarching point is, it has absolutely nothing to do with upholding or defending the laws of the state of Indiana. This was a purely political stunt, probably performed using Indiana tax dollars, that did not in any way pertain to the actual job he was elected to do. At least his actions related to the Indiana abortion law were related to Indiana law (even though his crusade in that regard still runs counter to any reasonable legal theory, hence its quick and unanimous dismissal).

    2. Even if you were a supporter of Rokita, you should want to get rid of him given his low success rate. He’s the Washington Generals of attorney generals.

  3. YAWN. The usual piling-on by IBJ’s uber-liberals who ought to move out of Indiana if it is so terrible.

    I’ve met and talked one-on-one with Todd Rokita many times over the last ten years (have any of you?) and while he is no more perfect than any of the five partisan lefties who authored the first five comments to this article, he is a far better man than any of you could ever hope to be.

    This is not to say I agree with every decision he’s made because I do not, so buzz off with your predictably-hateful remarks about my being his lapdog.

    1. Sorry Bob, I am not a leftie. I served as a political appointee in the administrations of two Republican presidents: Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, and held senior level positions with two Republican U.S. senators and a Republican-chaired U.S. House select committee. What I am not is an extremist, right-winger who refuses to compromise. This is what makes me different from Todd Rokita and you.

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