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High Court Rules Democrats' Walkout Fines Will Stand

Last updated on Wednesday, June 19, 2013

(INDIANAPOLIS) - The Indiana Supreme Court has ruled that the fines will stand for Indiana Democrats who walked out of the 2011 legislative session.

In an opinion issued Tuesday, the Indiana Supreme Court said it wouldn't take up the Democrats' appeal: "We will not involve the courts in such inherently internal matters of the legislative branch."

The Democrats, who staged a five-week walkout in 2011 over "right to work" legislation, were subjected to fines by Speaker Brian Bosma, who asked the state auditor to dock the legislators' pay. The Democrats filed suit, arguing that it was unlawful for their pay to be withheld on that basis.

In 2012, a trial court ordered that the withheld amounts be returned, and issued a permanent injunction preventing future withholding. The trial court found that the seizure of the members' pay violated the Indiana Wage Payment Statutes.

But the high court's opinion reversed the trial court ruling about the collection of fines, saying that due to the separation of powers, the judicial branch shouldn't get involved in legislative matters. That means that the Democrats' fines will stand.

A minority of two justices disagreed with the majority ruling.

Speaker Bosma issued this response to the court's ruling:

"I am very pleased that the Supreme Court properly respected the separation of powers and the rights of the legislative branch to manage its own internal affairs without interference from the judicial branch. I consider this a victory for the Indiana Constitution and the proponents of limited government, and consider the matter closed. I am glad that we can put this issue behind us and continue our work for the state in a bipartisan manner."

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