Court rules in favor of State Legislature in Holcomb v Bray

In an important win for the separation of powers, the Marion Superior Court ruled late Thursday that the Indiana General Assembly may provide by law for a legislative session to commence if the Governor declares a statewide emergency. In its order, the Court upheld the statute known as HEA 1123, enacted during this legislative session and challenged in court by the Governor.

“This is a huge win for the people of Indiana and permits their voices to be heard through their legislators when the Governor invokes his own emergency powers,” Attorney General Rokita stated.

In the lawsuit, the Governor had argued that his constitutional authority to call a special legislative session prevents the legislature from enacting a statute that authorizes a session during a public emergency. But in upholding HEA 1123, the court said that “[t]he Special Session Clause does not limit the General Assembly’s authority to schedule its sessions.” Indeed, the Court said, the Special Sessions Clause “was never understood to give the Governor any power to tell the legislature when it can or cannot meet.” Rather, it grants to the Governor an extraordinary right to exercise a legislative power to call a special session that is otherwise reserved to the legislature.