WBEZ | Indiana Supreme Court http://www.wbez.org/tags/indiana-supreme-court Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Taxpayer-backed school voucher program upheld in Indiana http://www.wbez.org/sections/religion/taxpayer-backed-school-voucher-program-upheld-indiana-106307 <p><p>The Indiana Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld the nation&#39;s broadest school voucher program in a ruling supporters say could set a national precedent as other states look to build or expand programs that use public money to allow students to attend private schools.</p><p>The state&#39;s highest court unanimously upheld a 2011 law providing vouchers for low- and middle-income families and cleared the way for an expansion being debated in the Indiana Statehouse. But more importantly, it could settle the case law for other states where voucher programs face legal challenges, supporters contend.</p><p>&quot;I think it will be incredibly influential,&quot; said Bert Gall, senior attorney for the Washington-based Institute for Justice, who helped defend the Indiana law.</p><p>The Indiana voucher program, passed by the Legislature in 2011, is the most sweeping in the nation and the biggest test yet of the conservative Republican idea that giving families choice creates a greater incentive for public schools to improve. Unlike voucher programs in other states, which are limited to poor families and failing school districts, the Indiana program is open to a much broader range of people, including parents with household incomes of up to nearly $64,000 for a family of four.</p><p>Jeff Reed, spokesman for the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, said 530,000 Indiana students qualify for vouchers, although only 9,000 currently receive them.</p><p>But already, the program is proving to be a lifesaver for the Catholic Diocese of Gary.</p><p>School superintendent Barbara O&rsquo;Block told WBEZ that last year, the diocese closed three schools. This year, enrollment has doubled in some schools.</p><p>&ldquo;Enrollment and finances were big issues. It was almost kind of sad that the voucher program didn&rsquo;t happen a year earlier so that some of them could have taken advantage of it,&rdquo; O&rsquo;Block said. &ldquo;But now, with greater enrollments, the programs that we&rsquo;re able to offer have been greatly enhanced.&rdquo;</p><p>The areas where the voucher program is most popular is in struggling urban cities like Gary and East Chicago, cities where Catholic schools were once plentiful.</p><p>Public schools in those cities often do poorly in academics and have cut programs due to shrinking budgets.<br />O&rsquo;Block said the program has been especially successful in attracting Catholics back to its schools.</p><p>&ldquo;This year we more than doubled our numbers. We have 813 choice scholar students in our schools this year and almost 500 of them are Catholic,&rdquo; O&rsquo;Block said. &ldquo;I think it&rsquo;s been good all around. It&rsquo;s been good for children, it&rsquo;s been good for families, for schools and for our church.&rdquo;</p><p>But longtime Indiana State Senator Earlene Rodgers, a Democrat, says the program is taking away vital public funds from struggling districts like the Gary Community School Corporation.</p><p>&ldquo;I think that stretches our dollars we have dedicated to education fairly thin,&rdquo; Rodgers said. &ldquo;Hopefully, this action will prompt the Legislature to devote more dollars to education so that we can provide dollars to those students that we are responsible for.&rdquo;</p><p>Governor Mike Pence supports the program that was signed into law by his predecessor Mitch Daniels.<br />&quot;I have long believed that parents should be able to choose where their children go to school, regardless of their income,&rdquo; Pence said. &ldquo;Now that the Indiana Supreme Court has unanimously upheld this important program, we must continue to find ways to expand educational opportunities for all Indiana families.&quot;</p><p>Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller&rsquo;s office was the entity that had to defend the law against a lawsuit brought by the Indiana State Teachers Association.</p><p>&ldquo;The Indiana Supreme Court found that the Legislature, in creating a voluntary program to broaden educational alternatives for Hoosier children, followed the Indiana Constitution by leaving the decision whether and where to use a scholarship to qualifying students and their families. My office defended the statute that the people&rsquo;s elected representatives in the Legislature passed; and now that the question is decided, families can make informed decisions about using vouchers,&rdquo; Zoeller said.</p><p>Public school officials fear the eventual loss of thousands of students, especially those from the middle class, along with the state money that comes with them.</p><p>The Milwaukee Parental Choice Program is the nation&#39;s largest in terms of actual enrollment. That program, enacted in 1990, had 24,027 participants this school year, Reed said.</p><p>The U.S. Supreme Court kicked the fight over school vouchers to the states in a split 2002 ruling, in which conservative members led by then-Chief Justice William Rehnquist said vouchers do not violate the U.S. Constitution&#39;s clause separating church and state. That left supporters and opponents to fight over whether school voucher laws violated similar clauses in state constitutions.</p><p>Indiana joins states like Louisiana and Wisconsin, where voucher or voucher-style laws have been upheld. But Arizona and Florida&#39;s courts have ruled against vouchers, and the issue remains to be resolved in other states.<br />Supporters say the Indiana ruling could influence courts in other states because the Indiana constitution contains a clause copied by many states in the mid-1800s in an effort to bar public aid for Catholic schools. The so-called &quot;Blaine Amendment&quot; was meant at the time to keep public money flowing to Protestant-dominated public schools.<br />That means the Indiana ruling could apply anywhere with a &quot;Blaine&quot; law, Gall said.</p><p>&quot;For us, and for the Indiana Supreme Court, the Blaine Amendment in Indiana basically prevented spending for the benefit of religious institutions. And the Indiana Supreme Court said &#39;No, this is spending for the benefit of parents and students,&#39;&quot; he said.</p><p>Opponents downplayed Tuesday&#39;s ruling. Brenda Pike, executive director of the Indiana State Teachers Association and a lead plaintiff in the case, said the group now considers vouchers settled law in Indiana. But, she added, Indiana&#39;s borders are where the ruling&#39;s impact ends.</p><p>&quot;This was a specific Indiana constitutional law question,&quot; Pike said. &quot;We went through the court system in Indiana, not any federal court system.&quot;</p><p>Lawyers for national groups who argued against the Indiana law deferred questions to ISTA on Tuesday.<br />Solicitor General Thomas Fisher, who defended the law before the state Supreme Court in November, told the justices then that parents were free to send their children to any school they wished, public or private, religious or not.</p><p>The court agreed with that, saying in a 22-page opinion written by Chief Justice Brent Dickson that the program primarily benefited parents, not schools, because it gave parents the choice in their children&#39;s education.<br />Dickson also rejected school voucher opponents&#39; claims that the state constitution requires a public school system, saying lawmakers have broad discretion in how children are educated.</p><p>State School Superintendent Glenda Ritz joined the lawsuit while campaigning last year but removed her name from the list of plaintiffs shortly after winning office.</p><p>&quot;As State Superintendent, I will follow the court&#39;s ruling and faithfully administer Indiana&#39;s voucher program,&quot; she said in a statement. &quot;However, I personally believe that public dollars should go to public schools, and I encourage Hoosiers to send that message to their representatives in the Statehouse.&quot;</p><p>There is still some question about how popular the vouchers are in Indiana. Voters elected Ritz over former Republican Schools Superintendent Tony Bennett, long the state&#39;s most visible supporter of vouchers. But they also awarded a supermajority to House Republicans, who have pushed for a sweeping expansion of vouchers this year.<br />The expansion bill is awaiting action in the state Senate, where there have been concerns about its cost and whether the Legislature should start making exceptions to the 2011 compromise that then-Gov. Mitch Daniels touted as giving public schools a chance to win over students and parents.</p><p><em>Michael Puente is WBEZ&rsquo;s Northwest Indiana Bureau reporter. Follow him at <a href="http://twitter.com/mikepuentenews">@mikepuentenews</a></em></p></p> Wed, 27 Mar 2013 09:02:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/sections/religion/taxpayer-backed-school-voucher-program-upheld-indiana-106307 Indiana court upholds ruling on police entry http://www.wbez.org/story/indiana-court-upholds-ruling-police-entry-92243 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-September/2011-09-20/RS4317_AP110525052582-lpr.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The Indiana Supreme Court is upholding a ruling that Hoosiers cannot resist police officers who enter their homes without warrants.</p><p>The original case goes back to 2007, when a Southern Indiana woman called officers about a domestic dispute. Her husband refused to let police enter their home, but they did anyway.</p><p>In May the state’s highest court ruled the police did not violate the U.S. Constitution’s Fourth Amendment rights against unlawful entry. The ruling sparked immediate outrage: The court received threats, citizens held demonstrations and Hoosier lawmakers asked the court to reconsider its decision.</p><p>But in a ruling Tuesday, the justices held firm.</p><p>Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller laid out the effects of the court’s latest decision.</p><p>“The Indiana Supreme Court’s ruling [Tuesday] means that individuals still have the common law right of reasonable resistance to an unlawful entry, though there is never justification for committing battery against a police officer. In volatile domestic violence situations, police have the right to enter a home to ensure safety of others, but today’s ruling also means the individual has the right to stand against his locked door to protect his home and communicate with police outside without a physical altercation,” Zoeller said. “While the Legislature considers whether to revise the existing statute, we respect the Indiana Supreme Court’s ruling, which underscores that the individual’s constitutional right remains in force.”</p><p>The court’s majority argued that the ruling does nothing more than bring Indiana law into stride with other states and that the argument that "a man's home is his castle" is not a justifiable defense of attacking a police officer.</p><p>The reference to force being used against an officer comes from the particulars of the original case, which began with the arrest of Richard Barnes in Evansville. In late 2007 Evansville police tried to enter Barnes’ home after being called to quell a domestic disturbance between Barnes and his wife.</p><p>According to court records, Barnes told officers that they were not needed. Barnes and his wife tried heading back to their apartment. Police followed and then asked to be allowed inside. Barnes refused and shoved an officer. The officer entered anyway and subdued Barnes. Police eventually charged Barnes and a court convicted him on a misdemeanor count of resisting arrest. The Indiana Supreme Court upheld Barnes’ conviction in Tuesday's ruling.</p><p>Barnes’ attorney, Erin Berger, has not said if she plans to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.</p></p> Wed, 21 Sep 2011 10:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/indiana-court-upholds-ruling-police-entry-92243 Challenge coming for Indiana police ruling http://www.wbez.org/story/challenge-coming-indiana-police-ruling-86738 <p><p><span id="internal-source-marker_0.20799367118204481" style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline;">An Indiana attorney will ask the state’s Supreme Court to reconsider a controversial decision that involves police entry into homes.</span><span style="background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline;">&nbsp;</span><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline;">The original case started with the arrest of Richard Barnes in Evansville, a city in the far southwestern corner of the state. </span></p><p><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline;">In late 2007 Evansville police tried to enter Barnes’ home after being called to quell a domestic disturbance between Barnes and his wife.</span><span style="background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline;">&nbsp;</span><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline;">According to court records, Barnes told officers that they were not needed.</span><span style="background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline;">&nbsp;</span><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline;">Barnes and his wife tried heading back to their apartment. Police followed and then asked to be allowed inside.</span><span style="background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline;">&nbsp;</span><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline;">Barnes refused and shoved an officer. The officer entered anyway and subdued Barnes.</span><span style="background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline;">&nbsp;</span><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline;">Police eventually charged Barnes and a court convicted him on a misdemeanor count of resisting arrest.</span></p><p>Barnes attorney Erin Berger challenged the conviction on the grounds that police didn’t have a warrant.&nbsp;The Indiana Appeals Court agreed.&nbsp;But after a ruling last week, the Indiana Supreme Court says Hoosiers cannot resist police entry into their home, even if that entry is illegal.</p><p><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline;">In a 3-2 decision, Justice Steven David wrote, “</span><span style="font-size: 12pt; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline;">the right to reasonably resist an unlawful police entry into a home is no longer recognized under Indiana law.”</span></p><p>David added that a resident’s refusal to allow an officer entry could lead to further violence. The court says a resident can challenge the entry in court at a later time.&nbsp;But Justice Richard Rucker, a Gary native, dissented.</p><p><span style="font-size: 12pt; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline;">“A citizen‘s right to resist unlawful entry into her home rests on a very different ground, namely, the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution,” Rucker wrote. “In my view the majority sweeps with far too broad a brush by essentially telling Indiana citizens that government agents may now enter their homes illegally – that is, without the necessity of a warrant, consent, or exigent circumstances.”</span></p><p>Berger’s taking the usual step in asking the court to reconsider its ruling.</p><p><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline;">“The breath of the decision would absolutely allow a police officer to enter a home for no reason, whether there’s a warrant or not, whether there’s extenuating circumstances or not,” Berger told WBEZ Wednesday. “Citizens no longer have the right to even tell the officer ‘No,’ and close the door against the officer’s hand.”</span></p><p>Following the ruling, threats have been made against the judges of the Indiana Supreme Court, and protesters have planned a march in Indianapolis for next week.&nbsp;</p><p><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline;">Indiana lawmakers are also considering amending the law so police within the state follow protections laid out in the U.S. Constitution’s Fourth Amendment. </span></p></p> Thu, 19 May 2011 10:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/challenge-coming-indiana-police-ruling-86738