Susan Brooks, John Tinder denounce Indiana AG Rokita, say actions smack of ‘McCarthyism’

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Susan Brooks (IBJ photo)

A former congresswoman and retired federal judge are publicly criticizing Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita, describing his recent actions as smacking of McCarthyism and calling on law enforcement officials to “reject his example.”

Susan Brooks, a Republican who represented Indiana’s 5th Congressional District from 2013 to 2021, and John Tinder, who served on the Southern Indiana District Court then the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, jointly wrote a column which was published Wednesday in The Wall Street Journal. The pair say they are “deeply concerned” about Rokita’s actions toward Dr. Caitlin Bernard, the Indiana physician who performed an abortion on a 10-year-old Ohio girl.

Brooks and Tinder pointed out Rokita admitted he did not examine the evidence before he “rushed precipitously into this fray” and told Fox News he was investigating Bernard. Moreover, they assert the attorney general used “inflammatory rhetoric” in calling Bernard an “abortion activist acting as a doctor.”

“We are appalled that, by his own admission, Mr. Rokita announced his investigation before gathering the most basic facts,” Brooks and Tinder wrote. “Every attorney, as an officer of the court, has a solemn duty not to make false, misleading or groundless statement of law or fact. Mr. Rokita’s position heightens that duty. His client, the state of Indiana, has the power to deprive its residents of liberty and property.”

The mention of the state’s ability to take away personal freedom invokes Rokita’s repeated emphasis on his work in the attorney general’s office as preserving individual liberty.

The attorney general’s office did not provide a response by IL deadline.

Brooks and Tinder are not the only lawyers to criticize Rokita for his handling of the Bernard matter. Lauren Robel, former dean of the Indiana University Maurer School of Law, has publicly called for the Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission to investigate the attorney general’s conduct and 29 law school professors in Indiana have also condemned him for making “false and misleading” statements.

Although the abortion Bernard performed was legal and she did comply with all of the state’s reporting requirement, Rokita has said he is continuing to investigate. Bernard’s attorney, Kathleen DeLaney of DeLaney & DeLaney LLC, has served the attorney general with notice that a defamation lawsuit could be filed.

Brooks and Tinder also faulted Rokita for disregarding his obligation as a prosecutor to refrain from making public comments that will likely bring more condemnation to the accused.

“A functioning democracy requires that citizens trust the state to enforce the law fairly,” they wrote. “A prosecutor should never wield the government’s extraordinary authority for political or ideological aims. That smacks of McCarthyism and is especially pernicious at a sensitive political moment.”

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49 thoughts on “Susan Brooks, John Tinder denounce Indiana AG Rokita, say actions smack of ‘McCarthyism’

    1. You need to stay in your cage!

      Why do you think you should be telling people whether they should involve themselves in this issue or not?

      Your answer?

  1. Timely and appropriate reprimand of General Rokita. His actions have brought embarrassment to the State of Indiana, the office of Attorney General, and himself. Rokita’s resignation would be the appropriate response for his “false and misleading” statements and subsequent attempts to intimidate Dr.Bernard.

  2. If we have an AG who is rushing onto cable news without doing any research and playing politics, I don’t care what party they’re a member of, they should be promptly removed from office.

  3. Does Susan or the judge want speak to the fact, there is NO penalty to Dr.s or Women having abortions in the much talked about new law. 🤔 Still the IBJ won’t print a word about that truth.

    1. Maybe because your understanding of the law is faulty.

      Even Indiana Right to Life wasn’t pushing for penalties for the women themselves. Maybe you’d prefer the women just wear the scarlet letter?

      As far as the doctors..,

      “ It’s a level 5 felony for a physician to perform an illegal abortion. That means an abortion provider could face 1 to 6 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000 under the amended bill.”

    2. If I’m Indiana Right to Life, I’d maybe stop using the “love them both” mantra given their idea of “love” is apparently transactional and, as frequently noted, is quite limited.

  4. Respectfully, why did anyone come from Ohio to Indiana for an abortion? Both states have exclusions for rape/incest, I believe. The, pro-abortionists, which I see include Brooks and Tinder, orchestrated this to attack Indiana abortion bans. (In my opinion.) I agree that the case should be investigated. If there’s no wrong doing, then there should be no problem.

    1. Clearly, you only drink the Fox News cool-aid and cannot for a minute do your own research. If you did, you would know why someone from Ohio would have to travel to Indiana for an abortion. Come September 15th, Indiana will not be an option, despite what you think the new law allows. Additionally, Susan Brooks is not pro-choice (based upon previous public comments she has made). Rokita’s actions are going to cost the State of Indiana taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees and settlement dollars for his defamation of Dr. Bernard. He went on national television and claimed that she has a “history of failure to report” incidents of child sexual abuse. For anyone, particularly a doctor, this is a serious allegation with career-ending and criminal consequences. He knew it was not true but he said it anyway. Rokita’s comments have lead to death threats against the doctor and her family.

  5. This is symptomatic of the gap in our country.
    Do actions not matter?
    This is not about pro-life or pro-choice; This is about reckless behavior of an elected official who grandstanded to his base without doing due diligence.
    Why would anyone want that to be our standard?

    1. You mean like the DOJ has been acting for the last 10 years. Selectively prosecuting those on the right while letting everything go (Benghazi, Russian dossier, Clintons laptop, Clinton destroying evidence, Epstein, Hunter Biden’s drugs, sex, laptop) on the left? It is the left that has politized the justice system, this appears to be one example of pushing back.

    2. Don B. – Please elaborate, with source citing, of the alleged “nefarious” events you list (sources such as OAN, Newmax, Fox News, or rightwing podcasts are not deemed credible).

  6. This paragraph from Brooks and Tinder’s article seems to capture their main point: “A functioning democracy requires that citizens trust the state to enforce the law fairly. A prosecutor should never wield the government’s extraordinary authority for political or ideological aims. That smacks of McCarthyism and is especially pernicious at a sensitive political moment.”

    While I agree Rokita has been inappropriate here, I find it odd that they compare his actions to McCarthyism when it would seem a much more relevant and timely comparisons could be made to the US AG and the New York State AG, the latter of whom campaigned on a platform of prosecuting Trump without any evidence of a crime, a’ la “show me the man and I’ll show you the crime.”

    1. Steven,

      McCarthyism is the practice of making accusations and smearing without evidence. From “Thus anyone who makes insufficiently supported accusations or engages in unbalanced investigations against persons in an attempt to silence or discredit them is said to be practicing McCarthyism.” This seems to closely parallel what our AG did during his Fox grandstanding.

      WRT to your analogy, I didn’t track the situation from the start, but “without any evidence of a crime” seems highly unlikely and incongruent with what has taken place. From Wikipedia, “Eric Trump and Weisselberg invoked their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination over 500 times in their testimony for the AG and the DA, respectively. Donald Trump pleaded the Fifth in his testimony for the AG, which took place on August 10, 2022.”

      This, of course, follows the wise observation of TFG five years ago: “The mob takes the Fifth,” “If you’re innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?”

      Time will tell, of course, how many times Dr. Bernard takes the Fifth when she testifies in Rokita’s investigation.

    2. What is interesting about the statement is that, we are not now nor have we ever been a democracy.
      It is a Constitutional Republic and no the terms are no synonymous.

  7. I did not excuse Rokita based on the actions of the US AG or the NY State AG. And if your problem is with the principle the transgression, rather than Rokita himself, then you too won’t excuse the US AG or the NY State AG.

  8. Well said IBJ Reader’s: Rokita is demonstrably incompetent ( as fully noted here ). He is unabashedly intent on carrying the GOP torch – matching the successful subset of the McCarthy playbook – where Gaslighting Our People through intimidation, disinformation, and fear, has temporarily won the day. Rokita is Indiana’s modern day reminder of Absolute Power and it’s unwavering ability to corrupt absolutely. Inarguably, history shows karma makes its way back to most megalomaniacs.

    1. Please don’t lump all of the GOP in with Todd Rokita. He has his own agenda……trying to grandstand and get his 15 minutes of fame in. He is angling for his next election. His policies do not align with many of us in the party. He’s an attention whore. He is significantly more concerned with his next opportunity to get in front of a mic than he is with executing his role and responsibilities.

    2. You mean like the NY AG who campaigned on one thing and that was going after Trump. No evidence, just personal bias and political targeting.

    3. Rokita is a piker, US AG Merritt Garland is the epitome of absolute power corruptions, absolutely!

    1. If she has always been on the side of leftists, how is it that few of us on the left ever agreed with her? She is absolutely a conservative… she just happens to be a conservative with principles, and a conservative who is not entirely off the deep end of the radical right. I guess when you are off that radical right deep end yourself, even a more traditional conservative appears to be a leftist. You need a more accurate perspective.

    2. Well, Murray, I admit I am speaking in relative terms when I refer to her as a conservative with principles. She has more principles than most of the peers she left behind in Washington, but that is admittedly a rather low bar to clear. No one in the Indiana Republican Party today is anywhere close to the examples set by such people as Dick Lugar or Bill Hudnut. Those were certainly the days… Republicans who genuinely wanted to serve the public good.

    3. Darrell did it ever cross your mind that a person who mostly aligns with certain political party principles might, just might, have a different point of view on a specific subject that goes against what the party line is, like abortion?? Those of us in the middle from BOTH political parties are getting so tired of the extremists like Rokita who only seeks to serve himself. And there is plenty of this nonsense that goes around in both parties.

  9. Chip,
    To portray the entire GOP as being represented accurately by Rokita is as almost as bad as Rokita himself.
    He is pandering to the far right and does, by no means, stand for the values of many Conservatives.

    1. But no current state Republicans other than these two seemed to have called him out, so maybe the accusations are accurate.

    2. Kevin, the equivocation approach is erroneous from my limited interpretation as presented in your reply; your larger point is spot on!

      The maga end of days approach is a subset which is all I was striving for. As a former fiscal conservative, I recognize your solid point! I think the more important distinction is most exist in the middle; I’ll vote to get away from extremes and away from my ego.

    3. Larry – we shall see this November in the Secretary of State race.

      The Republican candidate is so badly unqualified for the office … he was fired from it twice … and he got the nomination by spreading election lies. Reminder, this is the office that administers elections! He’s made it clear he will make our elections a mess if he gains the office. His priority won’t be conducting elections competently and fairly and making sure everyone can vote, it will be to do everything in power to make sure his candidates win. That’s not democracy, that’s banana republic stuff.

      We shall see how many conservatives say “enough” and vote for the other candidate, because they’re tired of the lies and incompetence … even if that candidate is a Democrat.

      Yes, Republicans did it with Richard Mourdock in 2012 … but in 2020, Republicans had that choice with Rokita – after rejecting him two years earlier – and they held their nose and voted for him. How’s that working out for everyone?

  10. Rokita is obviously running to be the next governor using his role as AG as his pulpit. This is sad since the AG position is supposed to be apolitical in its actions and follow the state constitution, laws, regulations and protocol which he has not done several times to gain political favor with the far right. This may be good for the right but it is WRONG!

  11. Larry rather,

    Kevin, the equivocation approach is erroneous from my limited interpretation as presented in your reply; your larger point is spot on!

    The maga end of days approach is a subset which is all I was striving for. As a former fiscal conservative, I recognize your solid point! I think the more important distinction is most exist in the middle; I’ll vote to get away from extremes and away from my ego.

  12. 2 retired politicians released a grandstanding statement, but because it is pro abortion and therefore fits the preset agenda the “ business journal” sent me a Breaking!! News email
    Slow clap IBJ

  13. Rokita stepped in it (again). He can’t get out of his own way. Why? Because he is a career pol who can’t live without the limelight. He is an unprincipled publicity-hound. Susan Brooks is an overrated career pol with a crass, foul-mouthed husband. She is an elitist who wants to be loved by the Lilly, Cummins, and Chamber of Commerce crowd. Judge Tinder should know better than to go within 10′ of her or Rokita. They’re both awful politicians. My opinion of him just went down.

  14. Problem with the McCarthy statement is that if we would of cleaned house in the 50’s the deep state Marxist wouldn’t have total control of DC. Which has permeated down to Capital Ave.

    1. Steve R. – The John Birch Society needs your address so it can send you a membership application…

  15. Disappointing reading most of these comments. Regardless of where you stand on the abortion issue, Rokita chose to disparage a physician before he had the facts. Once he had those facts, he didn’t stop but doubled down. Doesn’t matter the issue, whether or not you like/approve of Rokita, Brooks or Judge Tinder — this is really about a person in authority making unfounded statements both before and after he had the facts. Not unlike so much that goes on in politics today. Sigh.

    1. Nailed it. Unfortunately, most people can’t see the forest for the trees in these situations and would rather argue about how conservative (apparently there’s a scale?) someone is than acknowledge the wrongdoing by the AG here. I don’t know if it’s possible to get our city, our state, or our nation back to a place of discourse and debate rather than name-calling and extremist labels. #sad