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Opposition To Retaining State Supreme Court Justice Mounts

The percent of people voting to retain Supreme Court Justice Steven David could fall below average.

steven david

Photo: Indiana Supreme Court

Justice Steven David is facing mounting opposition as he comes up for his first retention vote this election.

Supreme Court Justice Steven David is up for retention this year on Indiana ballot and no justice has received less than 57 percent of the vote in the last 40 years. However, one Supreme court analyst says there is an unusual amount of public opposition this year.

The question of retaining an Indiana Supreme Court justice goes on the ballot two years after the justice initially takes the seat and then every ten years after that. Justice David’s first retention vote is receiving particular attention because of his decision in a controversial case last year.

“In 2011, Justice Steven David ruled that Hoosiers have no right to reasonably resist unlawful entry by police officers into their homes,” a radio ad sponsored by the Indianapolis Tea Party says.

David’s decision in Barnes vs. Indiana sparked outrage from several groups and prompted legislative action to clarify state law. The Tea Party ad does not specifically oppose David’s retention but emphasizes that the decision stripped Hoosiers of their rights.

Indiana University law professor Joel Schumm says he has never seen this much public attention on an Indiana Supreme Court decision or retention vote.

“But I think the legislature spent a lot of time on it last year, changed the statute and I get the sense that a lot of people that maybe initially weren’t happy with the decision have kind of moved on and realized that that’s been resolved,” Schumm says.

Schumm notes that eight of the last nine justices up for retention received at least 70 percent of the vote and while David might fall below that mark, Schumm says his chances of being removed from the bench are slim.

Brandon Smith, IPBS

Brandon Smith, IPBS has previously worked as a reporter and anchor for KBIA Radio in Columbia, MO, and at WSPY Radio in Plano, IL as a show host, reporter, producer and anchor. Brandon graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor of Journalism in 2010, with minors in political science and history. He was born and raised in Chicago.

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