Sen. Boots has introduced Senate Joint Resolution 9 which would amend the Indiana Constitution to prohibit courts from mandating state or local government to expend money for the operation of any court in the State. I have mixed feelings about this one. In my experience judges have been pretty restrained about mandating that money be spent for court operations. But, I have seen such mandates in cases where it didn’t look like the County in question was trying to target the court; rather the county council was working with limited resources and county departments in general had to make due with less. Courts are state entities funded by the counties where they operate, so they are different from the standard county department, but those situations still at least felt problematic.
On the other hand, one rationale for giving the courts mandate power to secure the operation of the courts is to preserve judicial independence. You don’t want the state or a county that has been subject to an adverse decision or has a matter pending before the court to try to leverage more favorable decisions by granting additional funds or withholding them. Putting the courts at the mercy of other entities for their funding could obviously be abused.
I don’t know if anyone anywhere does it this way, but my knee-jerk thought is that it might be good to give the Supreme Court taxing authority and have it take responsibility for funding the courts.
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