Yesterday Bil posted and quoted extensively from an item written in the Purdue Exponent by Thomas Nolan, a sophomore in the School of Mechanical Engineering. I applaud and agree with Nolan's opposition to SJR-7 as being repugnant to the very principles embodied in the Bill of Rights of our Indiana Constitution. But I must take issue with something he doesn't ever quite literally say but seems to strongly imply: that being what he calls a "law", and therefore subject to that Constitution, SJR-7 would itself be unconstitutional. He's obviously much more civic-minded than I was as a sophomore in Purdue's School of Electrical Engineering way back in 1958, but my 1971 IU Indianapolis Law School Constitutional Law professor would disagree with that conclusion. Here's why:
The Indiana Constitution is the highest law in our state. It has a section, Article 16, on how to amend it, but that section is just procedural. It places no limits on what can be in the amendment itself. An amendment can contradict something that is already in the Constitution, and the courts may be left with reconciling the two, usually having to say that the most recent amendment trumps the older language, for better or for worse.
So even though SJR-7 might, as I certainly agree would, do violence to the "equal protection" language currently in the Indiana Constitution, that still wouldn't make it unconstitutional. I worry sometimes that some folks are complacent about this issue because they think the Indiana Supreme Court could just throw SJR-7 out on constitutional grounds. Not so at all. I wish it were, but it simply isn't. Not as far as Indiana constitutional law is concerned. But there is a little more to the story: