John Krull: Todd Rokita protests too much

Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita has the most curious notions of law and justice and right and wrong.

While he talks about these things constantly, it’s obvious he has no idea what they mean. Nor does he seem to think that they apply to him.

That much has been clear for months.

But a recent amendment to a catch-all bill regarding election laws brings the picture into even sharper focus.

The Indiana Capital Chronicle reported that Indiana Senate Elections Committee Chair Mike Gaskill, R-Pendleton, allowed House Bill 1265 to be amended so that certain people would be prevented from running for attorney general.

The group the amendment excludes would not be large. Only lawyers who have been disbarred or had their licenses to practice law suspended without the promise of automatic reinstatement within a year of the election would not be eligible.

At the moment, that would not bar Rokita from running for reelection. He went through a disciplinary action and was publicly reprimanded by the Indiana Supreme Court, but his license wasn’t suspended.

But he faces a fresh disciplinary investigation because his response to his reprimand was about as mature and professional as the average sleep-deprived, sugared-up 2-year-old’s would have been if a favorite toy had been taken away.

Now, there is a genuine possibility he could face another disciplinary sanction.

Faced with this amendment — one approved by some fellow Republicans — one might have thought that Rokita would have learned his lesson about the importance of taking naps and staying away from sweets.

But no.

“This amendment does not affect the attorney general, however, this amendment is bad for voters and the taxpayers because it takes away their powers at a time when judicial institutions are being weaponized at all levels for political purposes. Deep state players, like backroom legislators, are taking the peoples’ power away and giving it to secret committees who are accountable to no one. The fact that the language is limited to an election year just shows that this is about politics and completely devoid of policy,” the attorney general’s office said in a statement released by a spokesperson.

(This is another curious thing about Rokita. His office routinely issues statements that are attributed to no one. It’s almost as if no thinking person wants to be associated with such drivel.)

There are several things that are interesting about Rokita’s statement from no one and nowhere.

The first is his insistence that the voters somehow are deprived if they aren’t permitted to elect a lawyer who cannot practice law. They couldn’t — and likely wouldn’t — employ one who wasn’t permitted to work as an attorney in any other part of their lives.

So, why should elections for attorney general be any different?

Second, since when have amendments offered as part of the legislative process by elected officials in public proceedings become the stuff of deep-state and backroom maneuverings? The amendment process is part of the way government works.

Always has been and always will be.

Last, Rokita has a valid point about judicial institutions being weaponized. He knows this to be true because he’s the one who did it.

Rokita’s law license is imperiled now because he recognized neither restraint nor reason in his persecution of Dr. Caitlin Bernard.

In 2022, Bernard performed a legal abortion for a 10-year-old Ohio girl who had been raped. She also gave a short interview to an Indianapolis Star reporter about it.

Something about the incident so incensed Rokita that he ran before the cameras at Fox News to condemn Bernard in terms so inflammatory that even Fox distanced itself from them almost immediately.

The Indiana attorney general began shopping for legal venues in which he could punish Bernard for performing a lawful procedure and exercising her First Amendment rights.

After much trying — and after maneuvering desperately to avoid being held accountable for his own actions — he finally found one in the Indiana Medical Licensing Board that was both susceptible to political pressure and lax when it came to demanding evidence of transgression. Bernard received a $3,000 fine and a reprimand.

It’s important to note that Bernard did not rush in front of microphones or shop around for ways to punish Rokita.

She didn’t start the fight and has tried to walk away from it.

Rokita won’t let her.

That’s why he’s in trouble.

Because he’s the one who weaponized the legal system.

John Krull is director of Franklin College‚Äôs Pulliam School of Journalism and publisher of TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students, where this commentary originally appeared. The opinions expressed by the author do not reflect the views of Franklin College. Send comments to [email protected].